3 face charges for snook, red drum violations
Friday, January 14, 2011
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3428
Illegally harvesting Florida's most important sport
fish is serious business, as a woman and two men in Brevard County
found out recently. They are each facing numerous misdemeanor
charges for snook and red drum violations after Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Kris Culver watched
them catch and put the fish in their car at Sebastian Inlet during
the night of Jan. 6.
Fernando Pantoja (DOB 05/02/80), of Okeechobee;
Kenneth William Weber (DOB 10/09/64), of Vero Beach; and Gloria
Lynn Melton (DOB 04/01/64) of Melbourne are each charged with
possession of snook out of season, illegal method for harvesting
snook (cast net), over-the-bag-limit of snook, possession of
undersized red drum, and over-the-bag-limit of red drum. The number
of illegal fish totaled 26 red drum, four snook and one black drum.
Culver donated them to a local charitable organization.
In addition to being subject to the base penalties,
which are second-degree misdemeanors and carry maximum penalties of
60 days in jail and a $500 fine per count, the alleged violators
are also subject to enhanced penalties for major violations. This
designation upgrades the penalties to first-degree misdemeanors,
which carry a maximum of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine per
count, and additional fines of a maximum of $100 per snook.
The suspects are scheduled to appear before a judge
at the Melbourne Courthouse at 9 a.m. on Feb. 18.
"Many people enjoy fishing onshore at Sebastian
Inlet. Unfortunately, some people don't follow the rules, which not
only is bad news for them when we catch them, it is also stealing
from ethical anglers who fish legally," said Culver.
If you know of illegal fishing, hunting, wildlife
or boating activity, please report it to the FWC through the
agency's Wildlife Alert Hotline. The number is 888-404-3922 and is
open 24 hours, seven days a week. Callers may remain anonymous and
could be eligible for a reward if their information leads to an