Rather than the initial hundreds of misdemeanor counts against seven out-of-state men who allegedly speared hundreds of lobster near the Vaca Cut Bridge in Marathon in July, each is now charged with two felonies and 31 misdemeanors.
That’s according to what’s called an information charging sheet signed by Assistant Monroe State Attorney Kelly Dugan Monday.
Accused are Leon Reeves, 48, Robinson Reeves, 19, and Jeffrey Honnell, 45, all of Pheonix City, Ala.; Jeffrey Barket Meide, 44, of Rome, Ga.; and David Gilmore, 55, Francis Bartkiewicz, 57, and Kyle Bartkiewicz, 23, all of Eufaula, Ala..
Each man was originally handed 586 misdemeanor counts for having out-of-season lobster and wrung tails; 14 misdemeanor counts for the lobster, stone crab, and reef fish “not in whole condition;” and two felonies for having more than 100 undersized lobster. The driver of the boat, David Gilmore, was handed an additional misdemeanor for a black grouper.
On the boat and at the house the men rented nearby, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers reportedly found a total of 320 out-of-season wrung spiny lobster tails, 226 of which were undersized, along with the stone crab claws and fish.
The reason there are so many fewer misdemeanor charges is because of state statutes that essentially break the 600 misdemeanors into groups.
There are 12 misdemeanor counts of possession of more than 25 crawfish in closed season; five misdemeanor counts of possession of more than 25 wrung tails; four misdemeanor counts of possession or sale of stone crab out of season; four misdemeanors for failure to land fish in whole condition; two misdemeanors for possession of undersized stone crab; and one misdemeanor count each for possession of crawfish in closed season, possession of a wrung tail, harvesting crawfish with a spear; and possessing undersized snapper.
The two felonies are for possessing more than 100 undersized crawfish.
“Now that the information is filed, we are in the process of providing discovery to the defense attorney. The discovery will include all of the reports and photos from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” said Assistant State Attorney Jon Byrne. “The defendants will be arraigned on Aug. 31. My guess is that the case will be put on for a pre-trial conference in October or November.”
Arraignment is at 9 a.m. in front of Acting Circuit Court Judge Ruth Becker at the Marathon courthouse.
In the meantime, defense counsel can take depositions of listed witnesses and or file motions in the case, he said. Marathon attorney William Heffernan, representing all seven men, could not be reached for comment by press time.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219