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Florida Keys News
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Seafood purveyor to pay $250K

A Pompano Beach seafood purveyor who federal prosecutors allege conspired to sell live spiny lobsters caught in the Florida Keys to China must pay a $250,000 fine and serve three years probation.

Eric Burman, 60, was sentenced Monday in federal court before U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King.

The fine must be paid to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act fund administered by the Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to court records.

Burman was charged with conspiracy to violate the federal Lacey Act, by transporting, selling, receiving, acquiring and purchasing Florida spiny lobster.

Burman admitted that during August and September 2010, he and a co-conspirator purchased lobster from harvesters in the Keys without creating and giving the fishermen Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trip tickets reflecting the transactions, according to a Department of Justice press release.

Burman then allowed a co-conspirator to ship the lobster under his company name to Hong Kong and China via Miami International Airport without the proper documents, according to the government.

Three such incidents, all in August 2010, involved the shipment of more than 3,500 pounds of live lobster, according to court records.

The co-conspirator, who is not named in court records, purchased about 980 pounds of live Keys lobster during that same time without a wholesale dealer's license.

Prosecutors allege the men violated the Lacey Act, the same law used to prosecute myriad Keys defendants in the lobster casita cases over the past six years. The act makes it a federal offense to import, export, transport, sell or purchase in interstate commerce any wildlife protected at the state level.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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