Joseph Franklin Sullivan, 20, of St. Inigoes.
ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 17, 2016)—Joseph Franklin Sullivan, 20, of St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County, has been charged with theft of oysters from a private aquaculture site off the Potomac River late last year. Sullivan was served on Thursday at the St. Mary’s County Detention Center, where he is being held pending trial on theft, drug and escape charges.
Earlier in the day, six members of the Natural Resources Police dive team searched a stretch of Smith Creek and a pier in front of Sullivan’s home in the 17000 block of Jutland Drive and recovered oysters, oyster shell and seed bags of the type used in aquaculture operations. The investigation is continuing.
This is the first time the Natural Resources Police has pursued an aquaculture case under criminal, rather than natural resources, law.
The thefts occurred from a shellfish lease in Calvert Bay. The lease, started in 2012, is farmed by J.D. Blackwell of 38-Degree North Oysters. On Nov. 24, Blackwell reported that eight cages were emptied of between 20 and 40 bushels of oysters. On Dec. 8, John Anthony Carbone of the Point Lookout Oyster Co., who also works on the lease, reported the theft of additional oysters from the area.
Sullivan is charged with two counts of theft of property worth between $10,000 and $100,000; one count of theft of property worth between $1,000 and $10,000; taking of leased oyster without permission; and destroying aquaculture.
The investigation is being reviewed by the St. Mary’s County State’s Attorney and a court date has not been set. If found guilty of all five charges, Sullivan could receive a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a fine of $27,000.
Source: Md. Natural Resources Police