January 19, 2019
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Man pleads guilty in scam that sent 50,000 pounds of Maine lobster to China

Courtesy of Maine Coast
Courtesy of Maine Coast
Workers prepare live Maine lobsters for shipping at York-based seafood wholesaler Maine Coast.

PORTLAND, Maine — A former employee of Maine Coast Shellfish in York pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges of wire fraud after prosecutors say he “skimmed” more than $25,000 in commissions from the company and caused Maine Coast Shellfish to ship $360,000 of lobster to an unknown customer in China.

Jonathan F. Cowles, 46, who now lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the federal crime, according to a release from U.S. Attorney Halsey B. Frank.

Between March 2014 and June 2014, Cowles used interstate wires to “skim” more than $25,000 in commissions to which he was not entitled from his employer, prosecutors said.

Also part of his scheme, he caused Maine Coast Shellfish to ship about 50,000 pounds of lobster, worth about $360,000, to a customer in China whose true identity he concealed, and for which Maine Coast Shellfish was not paid.

As part of the plea agreement, Cowles has agreed to pay Maine Coast Lobster nearly $360,000 in restitution.

He will be sentenced after completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

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