MDI man facing drug, scallop charges back behind bars

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Posted July 26, 2012, at 8:08 p.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A Tremont man accused of storing thousands of undersized scallops in a shed next to his house is back behind bars for violating his bail, according to officials.

Besides multiple shellfish violations, Brennan Spofford, 33, also is facing drug charges in connection with an alleged heroin deal in Tremont. He was arrested Wednesday after he allegedly was found to be under the influence of some sort of intoxicant, according to his defense attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth.

Spofford was still being held Thursday afternoon at Hancock County Jail, according to a corrections officer at the Ellsworth facility.

Spofford is accused of selling 0.3 grams of heroin for $200 to another person from a truck at an unspecified location in Tremont, according to a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency report on the alleged Feb. 28 drug transaction.

Spofford has a prior drug conviction in federal court. According to information posted in the online database of U.S. District Court in Bangor, Spofford was sentenced in January 2002 to serve four months in jail and then four months of electronic monitoring after being convicted of possession with intent to distribute heroin and aiding and abetting the commission of a crime.

The shellfish violations stem from an investigation by Marine Patrol officers on March 20.

According to a Marine Patrol report on the incident, officers acting on a tip found 5,592 scallops still in their shells in nine lobster crates in a shed next to Spofford’s house. Marine Patrol interrupted three men around 10 that evening as they were shucking scallops in the shed for Spofford, according to Marine Patrol Officer Sean Dow, who wrote the report. Officers found Spofford in the house.

State law requires scallops to be shucked at sea to prevent the likelihood of harmful biotoxins being brought ashore. The edible scallop meat does not carry the biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, but other parts of the bivalve have been known to do so.

After seizing the scallops, marine patrol officers accompanied Spofford to his boat, which was moored off the Pretty Marsh boat landing on the western side of Mount Desert Island, and found more undersized scallops on the vessel, which then were dumped overboard.

The next day, the Marine Patrol officers measured the scallops seized in the shed and determined that 4,796 of them, or more than 85 percent, each had a diameter less than the four-inch minimum.

All four men — Spofford, Eric Eaton, Nicholas Morse and Wade Kearns — were summoned on charges of possession of undersized scallops, violation of a closed area, and violation of the shellfish sanitation depuration certificate, according to the report.

Information on the ages and towns of residence of the three other men was unavailable Thursday evening. Nor was it clear from the report exactly where it was that Spofford harvested the scallops before bringing them ashore.

Marine Patrol officers have declined to comment publicly on the scallop violation charges against Spofford. But they have referred to the incident, without mentioning Spofford by name, as one of the more egregious examples of alleged taking of undersized scallops that they had dealt with during the scallop season last winter.

State law sets a mandatory fine of $500 for a first-time undersized scallop violation and a $750 fine for each one after that. Separate incidents, rather than individual scallops, each are counted as a separate violation.

In 2009, the Legislature increased fines from fishing for scallops in closed areas from $250 to $1,000.

State law also mandates that the commissioner suspend the scallop license of anyone who has three or more scallop fishing violations for at least one year and possibly up to three years.

Sgt. Jay Carroll of Marine Patrol said Thursday that the commissioner has the authority to suspend multiple types of commercial fishing licenses held by any one person who has a record of significant fishing violations.

Toothaker said Thursday that he did not know if Spofford has any prior scallop fishing violations. Spofford does have a prior lobster fishing violation from 2010 of fishing two traps without tags off Bass Harbor, according to court documents.

Spofford is scheduled to appear on Sept. 14, in Ellsworth District Court for a bench trial on the shellfish violations, court documents indicate.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/07/26/news/hancock/mdi-man-facing-drug-scallop-charges-back-behind-bars/ printed on October 31, 2014