Tag Archives: IRS Criminal Investigation

Wanchese fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges

Gaston L. Saunders, 53, of Wanchese, pled guilty on Aug. 3 to federal charges regarding the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass from federal waters. The charges stem from a 2010 Lacey Act investigation by NOAA, assisted by the Coast Guard. Since 1990, there has been a ban on harvesting Atlantic striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which spans between three miles and 200 miles seaward of the coastline. Eleven other commercial fishermen have entered guilty pleas for conduct uncovered in the investigation. Saunders also pled guilty to one count of federal tax evasion and three counts of failure to file federal taxes. In the plea agreement, he agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $544,946.35 payable to the Internal Revenue Service. A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. Saunders faces a total maximum sentence of 13 years imprisonment and/or a $800,000 fine. click here to read the story 14:19