The Department of Environmental Conservation announced the arrest of a Holbrook man and his West Babylon partner for allegedly selling fish to a Queens-based wholesale food buyer without a proper commercial license.
According to a release, Matthew J. Savarese, 36, of Holbrook was arrested by DEC officers on November 11 just as he was weighing the illegally caught blackfish before exchanging the money with Ding Hai Yen, of New Harbor Food in Flushing. Savarese and his partner, Matthew Ervolino, of West Babylon were attempting to sell 150 blackfish to Hai Yen, according to the release.
Officers surveilled Ervolino's West Babylon home for two weeks, where the two were allegedly keeping the live blackfish in pens before selling them on the black market. The fish the two were reportedly keeping in the pens hold an underground value of roughly $2,000.
“DEC establishes recreational fishing limits so individuals can enjoy a fishing resource at a sustainable level,” DEC Regional Director Peter A. Scully said in a statement. “When individuals drastically overfish their recreational limit and then attempt to sell these fish, they are not only depleting the fishing stock, but taking advantage of commercial fisherman who are playing by the rules and harvesting fish at their quota limits.”
Saverese and Ervolino have each been charged with unlawful possession and sale of the blackfish, selling without a commercial food fish license, and possessing over the limit and undersized blackfish, each a misdemeanor that could carry fines of up to $5,000 for each charge and/or one year in jail.
Yen, 56, was charged with purchasing fish from the unlicensed fishermen, also a misdemeanor carrying the same penalties.