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The day's catch of rockfish wait to be taken to market.
The day's catch of rockfish wait to be taken to market. (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox)

The third of four Maryland watermen involved in a vast striped bass poaching scheme was sentenced in federal court Wednesday, with the judge saying he wanted to send a message about the seriousness of the crime.

Kent Conley Sadler, 31, of Tilghman Island, was ordered to spend 30 days in jail and pay $25,000 in fines and restitution for his role in the Chesapeake Bay scheme.

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Sadler worked with two other Tilghman Island watermen, William J. Lednum, 41, and Michael D. Hayden Jr., 43, who took more than 92 tons of illegally caught striped bass worth nearly $500,000 from the bay from 2007 to 2011, according to prosecutors. Sadler pleaded guilty to his role, which involved helping Lednum and Hayden take more than a quarter of that illegal catch.

Federal prosecutors recommended no jail time because of Sadler's plea deal and relatively minor role.

But U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett said that to deter similar crimes, it was important to send a message that the consequences go beyond financial penalties. "The only way that message gets out is for a jail sentence," he said.

Sadler will serve his time on weekends at the Kent County jail.

Sadler has been convicted of other violations of Maryland fishing laws. Maryland's Natural Resources Police found Sadler illegally dredging for oysters in the bay after he had been indicted in the striped bass case, federal prosecutor Todd W. Gleason noted at the sentencing hearing.

Lednum was sentenced in December to a year and one day in prison. He and Hayden, who pleaded guilty in August, were ordered to pay $498,293 in restitution to the state. Another helper, Lawrence Daniel Murphy, 37, of St. Michaels, pleaded guilty in September to his part in the scheme, received probation and was ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and restitution.

Hayden will be sentenced Feb. 27.

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