Two owners of the storied Gosman’s fish market in Montauk and a commercial fisherman schemed to catch and sell more than 74,000 pounds worth of overharvested fish worth a quarter million dollars over a two-year span, federal prosecutors claim.
A federal grand jury indicted Bryan Gosman, Asa Gosman, their company, Bob Gosman Co. Inc., and 61-year-old fishing captain Christopher Winkler on charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, obstruction, as well as unlawfully frustrating the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) efforts to regulate federal fisheries. Winker and the company also face fraud charges, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. The court unsealed the indictment Wednesday.
Winkler, the captain of the boat New Age, went on about 70 fishing trips in which he caught more fluke or black sea bass than allowed by federal quotas between May 2014 and July 2016, authorities said. He then allegedly sold the fish to a now-defunct company and an unindicted co-conspirator, who investigators did not name, in the New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx.
The Gosmans had an ownership interest in the defunct company and after it went under, Winkler sold a smaller quantity of his allegedly illegal catch directly to Bob Gosman Co. Inc., of which Asa and Bryan are managers, prosecutors said.
Fishing captains are required by federal law to accurately detail their catch on forms known as a Fishing Vessel Trip Report and wholesalers are required to specify what they purchase on a form known as a dealer report, both of which are submitted to NOAA, which uses the data to manage fisheries. But the captain and the fish dealers falsified their reports to cover up the fact that fish were taken in excess of quotas, authorities said. The Gosmans cousins also withheld documents and records sought by a federal grand jury in an effort to cover up the fraud, according to investigators.
The indictments were part of Operation One-Way Chandelier, an ongoing multi-year investigation into fisheries fraud on Long Island being led by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement. The foursome will be arraigned at a future date. Attorney information for the suspects was not immediately available.
Upwards of 15,000 pounds of fish daily pass through the Gosman family’s wholesale fish market, which is the biggest operation in the heart of New York State’s largest commercial fishing port.