Hollywood Farmers Market Fishmonger Charged With Stealing From Fishermen
The popular vendor of seafood from the Hollywood Farmers Market, Sea Fever, was arrested on Sunday on several charges, which will probably market goers even more skeptical of the food they purchase. Game wardens from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in Santa Barbara Harbor charged John Wilson, 53, and his assistant, Kai Griffin, 23, with conspiracy and grand theft after a two month long investigation.
The two are accused of skimming product from local receivers in Santa Barbara, who basically act as a middleman by storing fish from a number of fishermen before they're shipped off to restaurants and retail establishments. The receiver does not actually own the fish, so the theft was not from the middleman, but from the fishermen themselves.
The investigation began in response to several anonymous reports to CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters), a confidential witness program run by the CDFW. The reported thefts were never very large, about 30-50 pounds at a time...In addition to the thefts, game wardens also claim that Wilson sold illegally landed fish, such as sea urchins, out of season Kellet's whelks, live rock crabs, and clawed rock crabs. "Illegally landed" essentially means that Wilson did not catch the fish himself or did not have the proper paperwork for the fish.
This situation will likely add to the uncertainty of farmers market fans after the Los Angeles County agricultural commissioner's office found that over 20 farmers market vendors were selling foreign produce. Sustainable Economic Enterprise of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) has revoked Sea Fever's license to operate at local farmers markets.