Fugitive arrested in Florida is accused of rockfish sales

June 11, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A fugitive accused of illegally selling 3 tons of rockfish in Maryland was netted yesterday in Florida, ending a yearlong search.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife investigators arrested Jerry Lawrence Elliott outside a residence in the Miami area where he had been living under an assumed name, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert M. Thomas Jr. The arrest came after Maryland authorities received a tip.

A federal judge in Miami yesterday ordered Mr. Elliott held without bail and set a bond hearing Tuesday in federal court in Miami, Mr. Thomas said.

Mr. Elliott, formerly of Montross, Va., and Edmond Pruitt, of Indian Head, Charles County, were indicted by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court in Baltimore in June 1992 on charges of conspiring to sell rockfish out of season, catching rockfish without proper documentation and exceeding the legal limit on catches.

They are accused of having sold the rockfish, or striped bass, over a 2 1/2 -year period to a bogus wholesale seafood distributorship set up by Maryland Natural Resources Police to catch illegal seafood harvesters.

Mr. Pruitt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in federal court here and was sentenced in November to four months of home detention.

Mr. Elliott failed to appear for his initial court date last summer. He faces a maximum of five years in prison for rockfish-related charges, said Mr. Thomas, adding that the flight from prosecution could add several months to his sentence.

The pair allegedly caught the fish in the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River.

DNR police set up the phony seafood distribution company in St. Mary's County. Mr. Elliott and Mr. Pruitt allegedly sold more than 6,000 pounds of rockfish to the phony business on six occasions during a 30-month period. They were indicted about 12 days pTC after allegedly completing the last and largest sale, 4,000 pounds of rockfish, on June 5, 1992. The rockfish were donated to Baltimore-area churches and soup kitchens.

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