EASTON -- Eastern Shore restaurateur and boat captain Levin F. "Buddy" Harrison thought he was paying a debt to society when he took a high school class on a free cruise of the Chesapeake Bay earlier this month.
It turns out that the boat trip won't help satisfy the terms of his sentence for illegal possession of rockfish -- even though the sentence requires him to provide such outings for youths.
"What he did was a nice gesture. While it's laudable, it's not consistent with the court's order," said Thomas Kimmel, who successfully prosecuted Mr. Harrison in March. "As a result, Mr. Harrison will not receive credit for it."
As part of Mr. Harrison's penalty for possessing seven rockfish out of season, District Judge John T. Clark III ordered the prominent Tilghman Island businessman to take 100 youths on educational bay excursions. He also was fined $2,000 and placed on unsupervised probation for a year.
After reading about the sentence in the newspaper, students from a geography class at Parkville High School in Baltimore County volunteered to be his guests on an educational cruise. On May 4, 25 of them went out on the bay with Mr. Harrison.
The outing did not comply with the judge's sentence, Mr. Kimmel said, because it was not supervised by the state Natural Resources Police and lasted less than four hours.
Mr. Harrison says he returned to land after three hours because several students said they had to be back at school in time to play lacrosse. And he says he didn't realize he needed to notify the marine police.
Ellen Barry Grunden, one of Mr. Harrison's lawyers in the rockfish case, said there are no plans to contest Mr. Kimmel's decision.
But that doesn't mean that the outspoken Mr. Harrison agrees with it.
"It don't make sense," he said. "I'm not a detail guy. I didn't understand [the sentence] that way. Kimmel's being hard-nosed about this."