T'ville business accused of selling illegal fish - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

T'ville business accused of selling illegal fish

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - A Grady County school board member will remain on the board following his indictment on illegal fish sale charges.

Byron James Puckett is also the Vice President of Harper's Seafood in Thomasville, a business accused of selling fish that was caught illegally.

The President and Vice President of Harper's Seafood in Thomasville are facing dozens of felony charges and could pay millions of dollars in fines.

The two were recently indicted for buying and selling fish caught illegally in Florida. The Vice President, Byron James Puckett, is also a member of the Grady County School Board.

Grady County School officials released a statement today saying, "We are aware of no statute or no board regulation that requires the Board of Education to take any action at this time."

Several Grady County residents told us off camera they could not believe someone in Puckett's position would be involved in a crime like this.

The indictment includes 52 separate felony violations of the Lacey Act based upon the illegal transactions.

Some customers said they had a feeling something wasn't right. "They also have fish over there that they get out of like the ocean. I've seen that before I was like they're not supposed to have that, but they actually do have that over there. That's a shame," said customer Carmen Clark.

Clark said one of the employees was quite honest with her. "I had gone over there to Harper's Seafood actually when I went to the grocery store and I saw that they had grouper, but the lady she actually told us the truth. She was like it's imitation grouper."

And when asked if she'll ever shop at Harper's again, Clark replied,  "Probably not because to buy something that you think is something, but it turns out that it's not. That's not right so probably not."

The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Each count of the indictment carries a maximum possible sentence of five years imprisonment and/or a 250,000 dollar fine. All four suspects entered not guilty pleas.

Copyright 2011 WALB. All rights reserved.

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