D.C. company sentenced for illegal rockfish buys

GREENBELT, Md. – A D.C. fish wholesaler is on the hook for a hefty fine for selling illegally harvested fish, and two of its employees are headed to jail.

A federal judge Wednesday issued a sentence including $875,000 in fines and restitution to Ocean Pro Ltd. — also known as Profish — for violating federal restrictions on the harvest and sale of fish.

The company and two of its employees — partner Timothy Lydon and buyer Benjamin Clough — were convicted earlier this year of purchasing illegally harvested striped bass, known locally as rockfish, from the Potomac River in Virginia and Maryland.

At Wednesday’s sentencing, Judge Peter Messitte explained rockfish taken from the Potomac were nearly depleted at one point and harvesting them is heavily regulated.

“I don’t know that the corporation gets it yet … there is a price to be paid for this,” Messitte said.

Lydon, who was sentenced to 21 months in jail, became tearful and told the judge that no words could express his personal and professional embarrassment. Clough — sentenced to 15 months — also apologized for not doing more to comply with federal laws.

The company supplies rockfish — the state fish of Maryland — for a number of D.C.-area restaurants. Messitte also called for a series of restrictions on the company.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter.

(Copyright 2010 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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