AR-News: (US) Four years for toothfish smuggler!
Barry Kent MacKay
mimus at sympatico.ca
Fri Jun 4 09:19:17 EDT 2004
Defendants sentenced for smuggling Chilean sea bass to NYC
May 28, 2004, 9:22 PM EDT
NEW YORK -- A man who led companies that smuggled Chilean sea bass and rock
lobsters from South Africa to the United States for at least 15 years was
sentenced Friday to nearly four years in prison.
Arnold Maurice Bengis, 68, a South African and U.S. national with homes in
Manhattan, Bridgehampton, N.Y., and Cape Town, South Africa, must serve
years and 10 months in prison.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan also sentenced Jeffrey Noll, 53, of
Ga., to two years and six months in prison and David Bengis, 34, of
Maine, to one year in prison for their roles in the scheme. Both men also
led companies involved in the smuggling, prosecutors said.
The judge said Arnold Bengis demonstrated an "astonishing display of
even hiring a private investigator to follow U.S. agents during their probe,
according to a government release.
Arnold Bengis and Noll were ordered to forfeit a total of $5.9 million to
the government while David Bengis, Arnold Bengis' son, must give up his $1.5
million fish processing factory.
The judge said restitution may be ordered during a future court hearing.
Arnold Bengis and Noll each had pleaded guilty to conspiracy, smuggling and
importing wildlife caught in violation of foreign or state law. David Bengis
had pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
Prosecutors said the men imported lobster and sea bass in violation of South
African and international law because they were dealing in quantities not
allowed or were without required permits.
Since at least 1987, the men and others underreported their fish harvest
to South African authorities, bribed South African fisheries inspectors and
submitted false export documents to conceal the wrongdoing, prosecutors
The charges resulted from a probe that began after South African authorities
seized and opened a container of illegally harvested fish in May 2001.
In June 2001, U.S. authorities in Newark, N.J., seized a container with
pounds of Chilean sea bass and 15,000 pounds of rock lobster, valued at
After the seizures, the men engaged in even more elaborate means of
to try to conceal illegal fish deliveries, including diverting one shipment
to Singapore and Hong Kong rather than Manhattan to avoid U.S. authorities,
the government said.
Many of the schemes were designed to evade South African laws written to
protect deep-water species by limiting the quantity that can be caught each
Copyright C 2004, The Associated Press
Barry Kent MacKay
ANIMAL PROTECTION INSTITUTE
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