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2 West Springfield Businessmen Plead Guilty to Illegally Importing and Selling Fish

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – Two West Springfield businessmen are facing jail time after being convicted for their involvement in dealing live freshwater fish without required state permits.

Monday in U.S. Federal Court in Springfield, 69-year-old Michael Zombik and his 48-year-old son, Paul, pleaded guilty to a charge of importing live bait fish and game fish into the state, then selling the fish in interstate commerce, all of which prosecutors say is in violation of the federal Lacey Act.

According to federal prosecutors, the pair ran Michael’s Wholesale Bait in West Springfield between October 1, 2005 and February 25, 2009.

During their time at the store, the company bought and sold millions of dollars worth of live freshwater fish and game fish, and that almost every transaction was done without the proper Massachusetts permits.

In addition, the father and son imported protected Eastern silvery minnows into the state from Vermont, which was in violation of the Mass. Endangered Species Act.

“The Zombik’s failure to follow state regulations and the required permit process increased the likelihood that diseases and invasive organisms would be introduced into Massachusetts’ waters and the ecosystems of other states,” the U.S. Attorney’s office says in a statement.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 13, 2013, and they each face up to five years in prison each, which would be followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

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