Two owners of the storied Gosman’s fish market in Montauk have admitted to their roles in a scheme to catch and sell more than 74,000 pounds worth of over-harvested fish worth a quarter million dollars over a two-year span.
Bryan Gosman, Asa Gosman, pleaded guilty at Central Islip federal court to one felony count each of criminal conspiracy, and Bob Gosman Co. Inc., the federally licensed fish dealer also located in Montauk that they partially own, pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor Lacey Act Fish Trafficking.
Their codefendant, 61-year-old fishing captain Christopher Winkler, is going to trail after pleading not guilty to 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. A trial date has yet to be scheduled.
Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York have said 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. 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.
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.
As part of the plea deal for the company, Bob Gosman Co. Inc. agreed to pay a fine of $50,000 and be placed on probation for four years. The company also would have to implement an Environmental Compliance Plan with enhanced monitoring, training, and inspection requirements. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.