ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Swan’s Island lobster fisherman with a history of running afoul of state and federal law is on the verge of losing his lobster fishing license for three years, according to officials.
Shaun G. Lemoine, 32, is accused by Maine Marine Patrol of molesting another fisherman’s traps and of fishing with untagged traps, both of which are civil charges, according to documents on file in Ellsworth District Court.
Lemoine was due to appear in court on the charges on Nov. 8, but failed to show up, according to court records. He defaulted as a result, which according to state officials is the civil equivalent of a guilty verdict. With the default, Lemoine has been fined a total of $980 for the two charges and Maine Department of Marine Resources has begun the process of having his license suspended for three years, which is automatic with a conviction for molesting fishing gear.
According to state officials, Lemoine still can file an appeal with DMR to try to keep his license from being suspended, but such appeals are not common. Another court date of Dec. 6 has been set for Lemoine to appear in Ellsworth District Court to discuss with court officials how he might pay the $980 in fines.
Whether the civil convictions will affect Lemoine’s federal probation, similar to the way a conviction for new criminal conduct would, could not be determined this week.
Karen Moody, chief of federal probation and pretrial services in Maine, declined Thursday to comment on whether Lemoine might face more time in federal custody for the trap molesting conviction.
“We can’t comment on any specific cases,” Moody said.
Attempts this week to contact Lemoine, or to determine if he has hired a defense attorney, have been unsuccessful. Voice mail messages left Friday and Saturday on Lemoine’s cellphone were not returned.
In 2010, federal officials ordered Lemoine to spend two months behind bars for violating his federal probation, which stems from a 2006 conviction in federal court for trying to obtain firearms while under indictment.
Lemoine spent a year in federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., on the original federal firearms violation.
His federal probation was revoked last year after Lemoine was convicted in Hancock County Superior Court of stealing more than $2,000 worth of lobster from a seafood dealer in 2008. Lemoine served six months in jail last year on the state theft conviction before he served the additional two months on the federal probation revocation.
The latest charges against Lemoine stem from an incident that happened this past fall, according to Marine Patrol Officer Colin MacDonald.
MacDonald said Lemoine stole two traps from another fishermen by hauling them out of the water and cutting them off the other fisherman’s buoy.
Lemoine then tied his own buoy to the traps and set them again, the officer said.
MacDonald said Marine Patrol officers caught Lemoine on Oct. 3 using the other fisherman’s traps.
“We watched him haul the traps,” MacDonald said.
Lemoine is believed to have stolen the traps a few weeks before he was caught using them, the officer said. The molesting charge stems from the trap theft, he added, while the other charge was filed because Lemoine had four traps on one line in an area where lines are limited to three traps each.
The charge of molesting fishing gear was considered a criminal offense up until a few years ago, when the Legislature changed it to a civil offense because of the difficulty of getting convictions from juries in trap molestation trials, according to MacDonald. Even though Lemoine might not face further jail time, the prospects for him or any fisherman of losing their license, and therefore their livelihood, is still thought to be a significant deterrent against molesting fishing gear, he said.
“It’s all about the three-year license suspension,” MacDonald said.
Aside from the firearms and fishing offenses, Lemoine has a history on Swan’s Island of criminal mischief and brazen acts of theft, including removing a television antenna from a neighbor’s house so he and his friends could improve their television reception, federal officials have indicated in archived court documents. On other occasions, Lemoine was convicted of slashing the tires on an elderly man’s vehicle because the man had gotten a haircut from Lemoine’s wife, and of stealing a wood stove.
He has been accused — but not convicted — of helping to transport stolen tires to Mount Desert Island, and suspected of shooting at the homes or vandalizing the property of other Swan’s Island residents in apparent retribution for, or warning against, talking to law enforcement officials, federal officials have indicated.