Central Islip - (WALK) A Long Island-based commercial fisherman admitted to defrauding taxpayers by falsifying federal records in a scheme to illegally harvest more than 86,000 pounds of fluke and haul-in nearly $200,000.
Charles Wertz, Jr. of East Meadow, will pay up to $516,000 in fines and forfeitures, sell his boat and give up his commercial fishing license in a plea-bargain made with federal prosecutors Friday.
Wertz, 53, was the operator of fishing trawler, and of Freeport-based C&C Ocean Fishery Ltd. Prosecutors say Wertz manipulated a federal program, "research and set-asides," by filing 137 falsified reports against his legitimate allotment between 2009 and 2011, underreporting his catch by about $86,080 pounds, valued at $199,000. Money from a set-aside auction is used to fund fisheries research.
Illustration: Wikimedia Commons/ USNOAA_FishWatch.gov