Man sentenced for selling undersized sharks

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A Milpitas man who ran a wholesale fish business has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to five months of home detention for charges related to illegally catching and selling undersized California leopard sharks from San Francisco Bay.

Dean Tuan Trinh, 43, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg.

Trinh was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the government and $14,450 in restitution to two nonprofit groups. The Washington, D.C.-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will receive $9,000 of the restitution and $5,400 will go to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Trinh pleaded guilty before Seeborg in August to three counts of acquiring and selling leopard sharks less than 36 inches long between 2010 and 2012 and six counts of wire fraud for transmitting false information about the size and health of the fish to customers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Trinh fished in the bay in a boat called the “Shark Hunter” and sold the sharks within the United States and internationally after advertising them on the Internet, according to an indictment issued by a federal grand jury in San Francisco in May.

A California fish and game regulation aimed at preserving leopard shark stocks prohibits catching and selling any smaller than 36 inches long. Trinh pleaded guilty to violating a federal law, the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to acquire, transport or sell fish in violation of state law.

The sentence also applies to Trinh’s guilty plea to a separate charge, originally filed in federal court in Florida, of conspiring with a Florida fisherman to sell nurse shark pups caught without a permit.

The Florida case was transferred to Seeborg’s court for judicial efficiency and Trinh pleaded guilty in both cases at the same time.

The sentence was agreed to in the plea bargain. Trinh will also forfeit his truck and boat.

Trinh, who now runs a lighting business, will be able to leave his residence during the home-detention period for work, medical appointments and religious services.

(Copyright 2013 Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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