A Tilghman Island commercial fisherman has been charged with witness tampering and intimidation in a federal investigation into alleged poaching of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Michael D. Hayden, Jr., 41,was arrested Tuesday, according to a news release issued by U.S. attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
Prosecutors say agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Natural Resources Police learned while investigating alleged striped bass poaching that Hayden had allegedly tried to manipulate some witnesses' testimony to a grand jury while trying to prevent others from testifying at all. The criminal complaint against Hayden also alleges he threatened to retaliate against a potential witness he believed to be cooperating with investigators.
According to an affidavit by a federal wildlife agent, Hayden quizzed one person subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury about what he would say. The unidentified witness allegedly said he would stick to the story Hayden allegedly already told investigators when they caught him with striped bass aboard one of his boats - that the fishing pole he'd used to catch the fish had fallen overboard.