Originally published in Castine Patriot, May 2, 2019
Lobstermen charged with cutting traps, other violations
by Anne Berleant
Two lobstermen and their two crew members have been charged with molesting fishing gear and other violations after a Marine Patrol investigation, the Maine Department of Marine Resources announced April 24.
The most serious charge is molesting lobster gear, for allegedly cutting the trap lines of a Stockton Springs lobsterman, who complained to the Marine Patrol last fall.
Walter Foster, 56, of Castine and Nicholas Wood, 22, of Penobscot were arraigned in Hancock County District Court on charges of molesting lobster gear, a Class D crime that could result in a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
Both received notices their fishing licenses have been administratively suspended for three years. Wood’s suspension took effect March 29, while Foster’s suspension is stayed until his hearing is completed.
Also charged with molesting lobster gear are crew members Samuel K. Stearns of Penobscot and Nicholas Jennings of Castine.
The Marine Patrol investigation, headed by Officer Rustin Ames, found that Foster, Wood, Jennings and Stearns had cut more than 71 traps belonging to William Nichols between August 2018 and October 2018, according to a press release.
The traps were valued at $3,692 and, as the violation requires restitution at twice the amount of the value of the lost traps, the defendants must pay restitution of $7,384 if convicted.
Wood was also charged with operating a motorboat with imprudent speed and distance, criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy, violation of a condition of release, littering, and lobster fishing without a proper license class.
Foster was also charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief and littering, and Stearns and Jennings with criminal mischief and littering.
“These are major violations and I’m proud of Officer Ames for conducting a thorough investigation which took place over months,” Said Marine Patrol Colonel Jay Carroll.