Recently, in Florida, two Witches from the Florida Keys were accused of crimes against Nature. They were accused of plotting to stop a turtle killing on their property and blocking a keystone ecologist from collecting samples of prying turtle meat for evidence. Both were investigated and cleared of any crimes. However, their reputations were sullied by the accusations, and the outcome of the case stung them.
wizards of the Coast Lawsuit
A lawsuit was filed in March against the two defendants, alleging they defrauded the United States with their “Wizards of the Coast” misrepresentation and illegal log witness fraud. The suit is similar to many other suits against unethical corporate conduct along Florida’s coast. Some of these lawsuits have been ruled on in court, but none have been won. One lawsuit was recently settled outside of court and involved an honest logging company which agreed to pay an environmentalist more than $500,000 to settle her lawsuit.
The Florida lawsuit revolves around two fishermen who became famous in the Keys.
Bill and Beverly Taylor was best known for catching colorful Marlin and Whitefish. In 1998, the two men supposedly stopped using “natural bait” and “bird bait” and began angling strictly for “live rock”. Unfortunately for them and their customers, “live rock” quickly turned into a very popular catch phrase that meant nothing of the quality or quantity of fish caught. The fishing companies whose fishing waters the Taylor fished did not suffer a loss as a result of the scandal.
Florida National Guard boats patrolling the coast found evidence that both men were misrepresenting the type and quantity of fish they caught.
They were fishing legally but illegally, charging unknowing customers (including themselves) exorbitant fees for what amounted to common marine species. Wildlife officials conducted sting operations with undercover investigators who posed as anglers to witness illegal fishing. After two years of investigation, theizards of the coast were able to nail the two men in what has become known as the wizards of the coast lawsuit.
At the heart of the wizards of the coast lawsuit is the question of whether or not the defendants properly maintained records that would support their authorization to allow the fishing to continue.
According to the complaint, the defendants failed to properly document the number and type of fish taken, which means they didn’t have to charge for what they reported. Fish information records were supposed to be destroyed after every catch. Instead, the fishing boat captains took the logs to their log books and filled in the numbers over the years that they didn’t record the facts. The resulting penalties for illegally taking and counting saltwater fish include a fine and possible jail time.
The wizards of the coast lawsuit was filed by Florida’s assistant state attorney general, Frank Messer, who is also responsible for cracking down on illegal oil drilling.
The lawsuit is being represented by attorney Christian Aguilera, who is also representing the state of Florida in its efforts to protect the state’s marine resources. Florida is one of the world leaders in marine protection. The state’s tourism agency is also a defendant in the lawsuit, because it wants to preserve the coastal areas that provide much of the economic well-being of Florida.