ELLSWORTH — Two lobster fishermen and two crew members were arraigned in Ellsworth District Court recently on charges that include molesting lobster gear after an investigation conducted by Maine Marine Patrol Officer Rustin Ames.

Walter Foster, 56, of Castine and Nicholas Wood, 22, of Penobscot were issued summonses after the Marine Patrol received a complaint from Stockton Springs harvester William Nichols that someone was cutting his traps.

Also charged as a result of the investigation were Wood’s crew members, Samuel K. Stearns of Penobscot and Nicholas Jennings of Castine.

After the initial complaint, the investigation found that Foster, Wood and the two crew members had cut Nichols’ traps on numerous occasions between August 2018 and October 2018.

Each man was charged with molesting lobster gear, a Class D misdemeanor that that could result in a $2,000 fine and up to one year in jail. The violation also requires that the court order the defendant to pay the owner of the traps an amount equal to twice the value of the traps lost.

According to the investigation, Nichols lost more than 71 traps valued at $3,692, meaning the total restitution would be roughly $7,384.

Wood was also charged with operating a motorboat with imprudent speed and distance, criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy, violation of a condition of release, littering and lobster fishing without a proper license class. Foster was also charged with criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief and littering, while Stearns and Jennings were charged with criminal mischief and littering.

“These are major violations and I’m proud of Officer Ames for conducting a thorough investigation which took place over months,” Marine Patrol Col. Jay Carroll said in a statement Wednesday.

Both Wood and Foster have received notice that their licenses have been administratively suspended for three years. While Wood’s suspension took effect March 29, Fosters’ suspension is currently stayed until the completion of a hearing before the Department of Marine Resources.

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