October 20, 2006
Three Southeast Missouri men were each sentenced to 90 days
home confinement, three years probation and a combined fine of
more than $18,000 for illegal commercial fishing and taking an
endangered species. The violations occurred along the Mississippi
River in the states of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky, resulting
in federal charges. The men were sentenced on Sept. 27., by United
States District Judge Rodney W. Sippel, in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
The men, Byron Mann, 42, of Caruthersville, Mo., John Mann, 65, of
Caruthersville, Mo., and, Charles Wallace, 71, of East Prairie,
Mo., each pled guilty to a felony charge of illegally taking
shovelnose sturgeon and paddlefish meat and eggs. In addition,
Byron Mann pled guilty to an additional felony charge of taking a
federally endangered pallid sturgeon.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Dan Burleson praised
the efforts of the Missouri Department of Conservation and the
U.S. Attorney’s Office in helping to protect the fish and wildlife
resources of the Mississippi River. “The Missouri DOC and the U.S.
Attorney’s Office helped us send a strong signal that illegal
fishing operations will not be tolerated,” said Burleson. “These
federal laws are in place to ensure that fish populations are
healthy and can be enjoyed by all Americans, not just a few.”
On March 24, 2005, two Missouri Department of Conservation
officers checked a gill net set in the Mississippi River near
Caruthersville, Mo. The net was not attended and was not labeled
with the owner’s name and address in violation of Missouri fishing
regulations. The officers found 50 shovelnose sturgeon and three
pallid sturgeon in the net. Pallid sturgeon are listed as a
federally endangered species and are illegal to take. One of the
pallid sturgeons was dead. The officers released the other two
Later that afternoon, two men in a boat approached the net and
pulled it up. The agents made contact with the men. They were
Byron Mann and his helper. Mr. Mann admitted that the net was his.
He said that he had originally labeled the net as required, but
that he had caught a large number of fish in another net and
needed to process them first. So he took his label off the net so
if it was checked by an officer, the officer would not know whose
net it was. Mr. Mann said that he had 25 different nets set on the
Mississippi River that day over a distance of 17 miles. He was
fishing in both Tennessee and Missouri waters.
Mr. Mann also said he was aware that he was supposed to attend his
nets. He said that he was going to continue to fish unattended
nets because that was the only way he could make money fishing.
Byron Mann and his father, John Allen Mann, operate a fish market
in Caruthersville, Mo. They process the fish meat and eggs and
sell them to a wholesaler in Paris, Tennessee. They also collected
fish caught by Charles Franklin Wallace and sold them under their
name in Tennessee.
John Allen Mann was interviewed, along with Charles Franklin
Wallace. Both men confirmed what Byron Mann had said. Mr. Wallace
also admitted that he caught most of his fish in Kentucky, where
he did not have a fishing license. All three men admitted that
they had caught and sold their fish in violation of Missouri,
Tennessee and Kentucky regulations, which is a violation of the
federal Lacey Act.
Records obtained by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service disclosed
that the Manns had sold more the $250,000.00 in fish meat and eggs
in 2004 and 2005.
The case was investigated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents
and Missouri Department of Conservation officers. The case was
prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney, Eastern District
of Missouri, Keith D. Sorrell.