NOAA fisheries enforcement corruption finally gets attention, millions in graft diverted for NOAA personnel personal use, travel, 'rewards'
- cases of excessive fines and prosecutions that all but mandated costly settlements.
"The problems identified by the inspector general are unacceptable, were allowed to persist for too long and will end on my watch," Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Thursday in announcing a series of measures to end the abuses.
For Kremin, whose business partner committed suicide and
- who lost his grandfather's business, Joseph H. Carter Co., at Fulton Fish Market, the revelations were only the start of making things right.
His case was settled for $150,000 but he wants a new trial and restitution. "I would like to see justice prevail," he said.
Last month, at a meeting arranged by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) at the Shinnecock Commercial Dock in Hampton Bays, Kremin detailed his story to Jane Lubchenco, who heads the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Friday, Schumer sent a letter demanding that Kremin's case be reviewed by a special master appointed by Locke to review allegations of past abuse.
- The inspector general's findings follow two previous explosive reports by the office showing that fisheries enforcement officers overzealously prosecuted fishermen,
- abused a fund of fishery fines to buy cars, boats and travel for personal use, and hit fishermen with inordinate fines.
In the new report, one fisherman explained the alleged tactics of an unnamed fisheries attorney pushing a settlement.
"[He] said that if you don't pay $27,000 right now, if you want to go in front of one of my judges, you'll be paying $120,000 to $140,000.
- I settled for 25,000 bucks. I was scared to death.
- They wouldn't give me the boat back."
Bonnie Bradie, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, which supports the local industry, said it was about time federal regulators listened to fishermen's complaints."We've been screaming for years the enforcement is unfair and prejudicial," she said.
- The National Weather Service Employees Organization, which represents the federal workers, (NOAA, ed) called the report "flawed and politically motivated" and the workers "scapegoats."
"The attorneys did their jobs. They enforced the laws, assessed penalties according to NOAA's guidelines
- and received awards and recognition for their work," said Dan Sobien, the employees organization president.
- (italics, bold, ed., That is the point, you received millions in luxury travel and other perks from illegal or unethical funds twisted out of fishermen. Even Senator Schumer agrees on this point and that it's been going on for many years. ed.)
*continuing, Newsday): "But locals attest to the findings. Mark Phillips, a Greenport fisherman, says he was hit with a $100,000 fine 20 years ago for fishing over the Canadian border, a charge he easily refuted with satellite records.
- Still, it cost him $5,000 for a lawyer to fight the charges, which were dropped.
"The $100,000 fine would have put me out of business," he said Tom Kokell, a Northport fisherman hit with a $120,000 fine and a license suspension for overfishing fluke in 2007, ultimately settled for a $65,000 fine
- but near insolvency forced him to stop making payments.
"If regulators don't listen to congressmen and senators, who are we kidding," Kokell said.
- "Nothing's going to change. You just get so disgusted."
- comment to Newsday article
""connorsmom -- The feds are doing this because they can --
- the fishermen do not have a strong lobby and can't afford corporate attorneys to ...""
- Through NOAA,
- Fishermen can no longer earn a living to the point that Senator Kerry proposed a bailout for them (8/5/10)....
- U.S. Commerce Department's own Inspector General’s office to have subjected the fleet to
- vindictive treatment and excessive fines used by the agents and lawyers to finance
- foreign travel and daily operating expenses.
The longtime federal fisheries police chief, Dale Jones was put on paid administrative leave in April following the first report by Inspector General Todd Zinser,
- but Jones remains on the NOAA payroll to the tune of $150,000 a year.
"We will be lining up to protest law enforcement abuse of funds, the blatant arrogance and abuse of Dr. Lubchenco and her ENGO (environment non-government organization) driven agenda, the continued employment of Dale Jones and every other abuse our regulators have punished our industry with over 33 years of corruption and egregious behavior,"
- the organizers said of the protest in a prepared statement."...
- 7/13, "Lawyer cites ethics issues with NOAA Counsel funds," Gloucester Times, Richard Gaines
- (In a recent investigation of NOAA, the US Inspector General was met by a lack of cooperation from NOAA counsel Lois Schiffer, a Lubchenco hire).
- AT, "Dr. Lubchenco did not attend the meeting with Secretary Locke.
(Commerce) Secretary Locke may be a lame duck. If so, where does that leave his commitments?"
- "IG report fingers NOAA law enforcement abuses," by Mike Johnson 9/27
- Newsday, "Abuses at Fisheries," article reprinted on 1 page
- American fishermen. And plenty of people think this is fine and view themselves as the 'compassionate' ones. ed.
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