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VIDEO: Fishermen Demand Immediate Trial on Fishery Charges

Supporters of the Lesters gathered for their arraignment in justice court on Thursday.

At their arraignment on fishery violations in on Thursday morning, of Amagansett pleaded not guilty before an audience of about dozen supporters. 

The brother and sister accused of violating state environmental law with regards to running a self-serve clam stand on Abraham's Path. They claim State Department of Environmental Conservation officers illegally raided their property on July 8, when they weren't present, and took fish that was being filleted for their dinner. 

Daniel G. Rodgers, the Lesters' attorney, requested an immediate trial. "The judge has, unfortunately, not given us a new court date," he said. "We would much prefer a very fast trial date, this afternoon if necessary," he said.

However, Rana said she would look at her trial calendar and inform the Lesters by mail. 

While Kelly was initially charged with a misdemeanor for the alleged sale of shellfish to the public without a permit, the charge may be reduced. 

At arraignment, Justice Lisa R. Rana said that a detailed complaint against her was for a similar charge, but as a violation, not a misdemeanor. Violations are not considered a criminal offense under the statute. 

The initial ticket Kelly received, which reflected the misdemeanor charge, had things crossed out and was scribbled on, Rana commented. 

Paul was charged with possession of untagged fluke and possession of over the limit fluke, which are violations.

Supporters, many fellow fishermen, turned out, including Stuart Vorphal, whose is where DEC officers took the confiscated fish and sold it, Rodgers said.

"I'd like to prove Paul and I are right. We did nothing wrong," Kelly said outside the courthouse.

Paul just wanted to get back out on the water. "Let's go fishing now," he said.

Their defense is that the Dongan Patent of 1686, a royal writ that has been upheld in state court, gives them rights, as town residents, to fish without a state license. 

"I'm surprised, knowning that they're going to get a fight . . . that they prepared such sloppy work," Rodger said outside the courthouse. 

Just last year, Paul Lester and Danny Lester were charged with similar crimes. They fought the charges initially, but faced with a $45,000 fine on felony charges, they took a plea bargain and paid a $5,000 fine on a misdemeanor charge each.

Even with the affidavit that only charges Kelly with a lesser offense, Rodgers said he isn't convinced she won't be charged with a crime at a later court appearance. "We're still ready to defend the case," he said.

Pamela Schenck August 18, 2011 at 08:52 PM
Just two local people who make a living on the water ... following in the footsteps of their ancestors .... just leave them alone!
Matt Laspia August 20, 2011 at 07:02 PM
F**k the DEC, they are money grubbing government pigs who rob society by creating and enforcing policies that encourage animal cruelty and waste. I hope someday soon their funding is cut and they are destroyed. Then lets see what all the unemployed ECOs think about poaching when they need to put food on the table...government scum!!!!
Noel Friedley September 04, 2011 at 12:56 PM
If there is a fund for contributions to a legal fund for these miscreants, please list in this paper. IJust look at the Japanese whalers and you know something has gone wrong with regulations, the size of the fines, the cost of government with so many in the DEC and the DNR and the other agencies that help few folks and spend so much as to become unaffordable. It is obvious that our government does not require a license and fee for clear headed thinking on the part of government officials that are Lording over too many people for too many reasons. Public Safety could eventually require protection of the public from those that say they are here to help us?

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