A Big Pine Key man was arrested Monday on felony charges of faking paperwork to sell 380 certificates for stone-crab traps.
Pedro L. Lorenzo, 48, is accused by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators of failing to properly register the sale of the certificates, which is required for each stone-crab trap placed in the water.
According to an arrest warrant, Lorenzo, using his wife's saltwater products license, purchased 500 trap certificates from their legal owner, Marisol Falcon. When two buyers filed applications with the FWC last summer to transfer lots of 300 and 80 certificates to them, state staff said the paperwork was not complete.
The warrant indicates Lorenzo submitted transfer applications signed with Marisol's name as seller. Falcon said her signature on the documents was forged, and that she did not sell the certificates to the listed buyers.
"Mr. Lorenzo sold the tags ... by fraudulently filling out both stone [crab] tag transfer applications and the bill of sale, then forging Mrs. Falcon's signature on them," the warrant says.
The FWC tracks the sale of trap certificates, which were created to ensure the number of traps in the fishery is limited to a specific level.
Lorenzo's bond was placed at $40,000 for four felony counts of making an improper trap-certificate transfer, and four misdemeanor counts of filing false applications.