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Watermen Charged in Oyster, Yellow Perch Poaching Cases

Officers of the Maryland Natural Resources Police charged watermen in Talbot and Harford counties with poaching, and arrested a Garrett County man on drunken driving charges in cases highlighted this week.

Four Tilghman Island watermen were charged March 15 with harvesting oysters from protected state waters near the Choptank River by officers on surveillance patrol.

Kevin Steven Tarleton Sr., 46, Kevin Steven Tarleton Jr., 23, Steven Kevin Tarleton, 22, and Ronald Randolph Gowe Jr., 21, received citations for hand tonging oysters from the Howell Point-Beacon Sanctuary. Kevin Steven Tarleton Jr., 23, also was charged with harvesting oysters without a license.

Officers watched on the morning of March 11 as two boats entered the sanctuary, one with Steven Tarleton and Gowe aboard, and the other with the junior and senior Tarletons aboard. Officers detected that one of the buoys marking the sanctuary had been moved to make the protected area smaller.

The officers gathered evidence and boarded Steven Tarleton’s vessel, where they found 15 bushels of oysters. They later picked up the receipts from the oyster buyer on Tilghman Island that documented that Tarleton junior and senior each sold 15 bushels.

The four men are scheduled to appear in Talbot District Court on May 19. If found guilty of the poaching charge each man could be fined as much as $3,000 and have their commercial license suspended for up to one year. They also would have to pay the state restitution for the oysters.

The investigation into the displaced buoy continues.

Last year in Talbot District Court, all three Tarletons were found guilty of oyster poaching in a sanctuary. The senior Tarleton was fined $977. Steven Kevin Tarleton was fined $227. The junior Tarleton was fined $704. He also is scheduled to stand trial next month on two theft charges.


A Baltimore County waterman with a long history of natural resources violations was charged Wednesday with 12 counts of illegally harvesting yellow perch after officers caught him setting nets in the Gunpowder River.

John James Messenger, 39, of Middle River, faces fines of as much as $2,965 if found guilty of placing nets across the Joppatown Canal and at three points on Foster Branch. In addition, Messenger did not comply with reporting conditions set by the state as part of a pilot program to document commercial fishing activity. He also did not tag his catch, as required.

State fishing regulations prohibited setting nets from Feb. 1 through March 31 that stretch more than one-third of the way across portions of the Gunpowder used by yellow perch during spawning season.

Acting on a tip, officers placed Messenger under surveillance over the period of several weeks to verify his activity.

A trial date has not been set in Harford District Court. Messenger has a list of natural resources convictions dating back to 1997. The charges range from illegal deer hunting and harvesting undersized striped bass, to exceeding the daily catch limit and crabbing violations.


A Garrett County man was charged with impaired driving Thursday after he was stopped by an officer

Kenneth William Pagano, 50, of Friendsville, received two citations for driving under the influence of alcohol, and single citations for driving a vehicle with expired plates and failing to show an officer his license.

After receiving an alert from a State Police dispatcher, an officer noticed a white Chevy Blazer with a dangling tail light and front light leaving the Funny Farm Citgo station on Friendsville Road.

Stopping the vehicle, the officer noticed a heavy odor of alcohol and believed the driver to be intoxicated.  Pagano asked for an ambulance and one was dispatched to take him to Garrett Memorial Hospital.

Pagano refused a breathalyzer or blood test. He was issued citations and remained in the care of the hospital.

A court date has not been set. Pagano is to stand trial on April 13 in Garrett District Court on drunken driving charges brought late last year by the county sheriff’s office. In 2014, he was convicted in Allegany District Court of drunken driving and driving with an expired registration and was given probation before judgment.