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Crustacean Thief on the Hook for Jail Time


Stealing crabs from competitors’ Santa Barbara Harbor holding tanks, among other fishing-related offenses, will net John Anthony Wilson six months in Santa Barbara County Jail and three years of felony probation, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He will be formally sentenced in October.

Wilson pleaded no contest on Wednesday to four charges of felony grand theft and five misdemeanors tied to fishing out of season, failing to manage traps when needed, and neglecting to account for his commerical yield. The charges arose after California Fish and Wildlife discovered that Wilson had nabbed crabs from other fishermen’s tanks more than once and would sell his unreported and stolen catch at regional fish markets.

In addition to his jail time and probation, Wilson will have to repay the affected fishermen and foot the bill to Fish and Wildlife for the department’s investigation costs. He will be banned from fishing — commerically or recreationally — until Fish & Wildlife finishes its work related to the crimes. “This case demonstrates Santa Barbara County’s dedication to our fishing community and to those fishermen who do their utmost to abide by all the laws and regulations in the course of their profession that help protect our local resources,” said Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod, who handled the case.

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