behind-bars

U.S. Dept. of Justice: Two West Springfield, Massachusetts, men were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Springfield for dealing in live baitfish without the required state permits and health certifications.

Paul Zombik, 49, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor to 1 year and 1 day in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and must pay a $50,000 fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. Michael Zombik, 70, was sentenced by Judge Ponsor to 6 months in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and must pay a $50,000 fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund.

They were the Largest supplier of wholesale saltwater baits to the entire CT, NY, RI…

In November 2012, the Zombiks pleaded guilty to 3 counts of violating the federal Lacey Act by importing into Massachusetts and exporting from Massachusetts live fish without obtaining the required permits.

Between October 1, 2005, and February 25, 2009, Paul Zombik and his father, Michael Zombik, ran Michael’s Wholesale Bait (MWB) in West Springfield. During that time, WMB purchased and sold in interstate commerce millions of dollars of live bait fish. Almost all of those transactions were without the necessary Massachusetts state permits and required health certifications. The Zombiks’ failure to follow state regulations increased the likelihood that invasive diseases and organisms would be introduced into Massachusetts’ waters and ecosystem.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Honora Gordon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region; and Wayne F. MacCallum, Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, made the announcement today. The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement; the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs; the Massachusetts Environmental Police; and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Kevin O’Regan of Ortiz’s Springfield Office.

That bust went down years ago, but the sentence was just handed down. They were the Largest supplier of wholesale saltwater baits to the entire CT, NY, RI, and even into MA by the cape. Not sure who is going to step up and sell now, but it could leave a huge gap in supply right before the beginning of the season. Every shop owner I knew (including myself) leaned on them for the largest selection and best prices on all types of saltwater baits, fresh and frozen.

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