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January 02, 2003
Contact: Chief Bruce Bjork, WDFW, (360) 902-2373
or Tom Moore, Pierce County, (253) 798-6613
Shellfish racketeering suspect arraigned on new charges in Pierce County
A Pierce County man, arrested and charged last March on suspicion of leading a geoduck and crab poaching ring, was arraigned on additional charges earlier this week in Pierce County Superior Court.
Douglas John Martin Tobin, 50, was charged Tuesday with 14 additional felony counts of first-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property, according to Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tom Moore.
The additional counts bring the total charges against Tobin to 39 theft counts, including leading organized crime; 120 fish and wildlife violations and one charge of a being a felon in possession of a firearm. The fish and wildlife violations include 38 counts of trafficking in fish and wildlife, two counts of fish dealing without a license, 34 counts of commercial fishing during a closed season, 33 counts of failing to report commercial shellfish harvest and 12 state health violations concerning shellfish certification.
All charges stem from an alleged conspiracy, involving more than 20 individuals, to steal and market geoduck and crab.
"These offenses have resulted in the loss of state and tribal resources, including nearly 200,000 pounds of geoduck with a value in excess of $1.3 million dollars, and 85,000 pounds of crab," said Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork. "We intend to continue to present case files to the prosecutor on all individuals who participated in and profited from these crimes."
Tobin has been held in Pierce County Jail since his arrest in March 2002. His bail has been raised to $610,0000, based on the new charges. WDFW enforcement officials seized three of Tobin's vessels, including his 42-foot commercial boat, and four vehicles, all allegedly used in the poaching operation. WDFW officers and detectives also recovered 110 crab pots which Tobin had allegedly fished in the Nisqually Delta area.
The conspiracy allegedly operated from January 2000 until Tobin's arrest. The illegally harvested geoduck were shipped throughout North America and to Asia.
Besides Tobin, co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case include Xiang (Jack) Li and Lori Ellen Kern. On Nov. 12, Li was permanently enjoined from participating in any commercial fishing activity. Additionally Li agreed to restitution in the amount of $60,000 and agreed to testify in cooperation with the state on the prosecution of other individuals in the conspiracy. Kern pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree trafficking in fish and wildlife.
Additional charges, including 53 counts of first-degree theft and first-degree trafficking, one count of conspiracy to commit theft, one count of commercial fishing in a closed area and one count of trafficking in fish and wildlife, have been filed against Michael Shane Beard, who allegedly worked in the poaching ring.