United States Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Phong T. Duong, age 48, and Oanh T. Pham, age 46, both of Lincoln, Nebraska, pleaded guilty on June 28, 2019, to federal Lacey Act Violations in federal court in Omaha. Duong pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic wildlife, a felony, and Pham pleaded guilty to the illegal taking, transport, and selling of fish, a misdemeanor. Duong and Pham pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. Sentencing for both Duong and Pham is scheduled for September 20, 2019.
A joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism determined that Duong, and his spouse, Pham, operated a business out of their Lincoln, Nebraska, residence that sold wildlife and fish to customers located in Nebraska.
At various times between May 2013 and July 2016, Duong and Pham obtained fish, typically consisting of crappie, white bass, and wiper, from the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge, and other reservoirs, located in the State of Kansas, in violation of Kansas wildlife laws. To avoid detection and evade law enforcement, Duong and Pham would routinely change fishing locations upon the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge, and other reservoirs, stash fish at off-site locations, and utilized “straw fishermen” including minor children and others to conceal fish taken in excess of the established possession limits. Duong and Pham regularly transported the illegally taken fish from the State of Kansas to the State of Nebraska. Upon arrival in the State of Nebraska, the fish would be cleaned and bagged at Duong and Pham’s residence. Duong and Pham would then sell the fish to customers located in Nebraska for a profit.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to protecting native species and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement. “Overfishing impacts local economies and fish populations. It also deprives law abiding citizens and others who enjoy outdoor recreation activities related to these resources. We will continue to work with our partners to vigorously investigate and apprehend those involved with the unlawful acquisition, sale, and exploitation of our nation’s natural resources. Together, we will ensure that our country’s wildlife and wild places are protected for generations to come.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.