LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, H. Jeff Radonski, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Law Enforcement, Bonnie Foist, Chief Ranger for Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Park, and Major Mike Edwards, Regional Commander, South Region, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC), announced that defendant Robert Demauro, of Sugarloaf Key, Florida, was convicted and sentenced on October 1, 2007 as a result of charges brought against him that he interfered with federal agency functions by threatening, resisting, intimidating, or intentionally interfering with government agents engaged in the performance of their duties, in violation of National Park Service Regulations, Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 2.32(a)(1).
The trial was conducted in the Key West federal Courthouse before the Honorable Lurana S. Snow, United States Magistrate Judge. Demauro was adjudicated guilty on the charge brought against him and was sentenced to pay a fine of $500.00 and court costs. The charge carried a possible sentence of up to six months in jail and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.
According to the allegations of the Violation Notice, and testimony in Court, on June 9, 2007, the defendant Demauro was acting as one of the Coast Guard licensed masters aboard the charter boat M/V PLAYMATE, which was anchored in Garden Key Harbor at Dry Tortugas National Park. Law enforcement officers, including a Special Agent with NOAA and two FWCC Officers were conducting fisheries and safety inspections of vessels within the Park, and acquainting boaters with the requirements of the nearby Dry Tortugas Ecological Preserves, which have been established as “no-take” replenishment zones. The PLAYMATE, at the time, had a group of customers aboard who were on a multi-day spear fishing charter, and advised they had fish aboard, taken that day.
After boarding the PLAYMATE, the officers spoke with some of the passengers and crew, and decided to examine the vessel’s navigation gear, a Global Positioning System located in the wheelhouse. A crew member escorted the officers to the wheel house where defendant Demauro was asleep in the aft area of the wheel house. After being awakened by the crew member, he subsequently confronted two of the uniformed officers, challenging their legal authority to conduct an inspection of the vessel, yelling and cursing at the officers, and physically interfering with their activities. Refusing to be baited by Demauro’s repeated demands that he be arrested and taken to Key West, the officers completed their inspection.
Mr. Acosta commended the coordinated efforts of the National Park Service, NOAA, and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission which brought the matter to a successful conclusion. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.