Two Convicted of Illegal Trafficking in Protected Fish

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Two Kentucky men will pay nearly $71,500 in fines, court costs and restitution as a result of a multiyear investigation by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Special Investigations Unit and conservation officers in the first and second districts of western Kentucky.

On Dec. 11, Smart Fish Farm owner and operator Melvin Taylor, 56, of Auburn, Ky., pleaded guilty in Christian District Court to multiple charges of buying and selling protected species of fish. The court fined Taylor $56,000.

Earlier this year, and because of this investigation, Taylor also pleaded guilty in Lyon County to multiple charges of buying or selling protected species of fish. Other charges included creel and size limit violations, no live bait dealers license, and propagation and holding of protected species of fish without a permit. The court ordered Taylor to pay $6,188 in fines, court costs and restitution. The court also handed down a probated12-month jail sentence and forfeited all equipment seized.

A second man in the investigation, Nathan Nolt, of Elkton, Ky., was charged with multiple counts of illegally selling protected species of fish. Nolt recently pleaded guilty to those charges in Christian County, where he was ordered pay $4,300 in fines and court costs.

During the course of this investigation, officers uncovered evidence of illegal interstate fish and wildlife activities into neighboring states. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife investigators worked cooperatively with Illinois Conservation Police officers to further investigate this activity. As a result, Taylor was charged in Illinois and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.