NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Law Enforcement
On Columbus Day, CO Panico apprehended an individual over the
daily limit of trout in the Pequest Trout Conservation Area.
In addition to the over the limit charge, the fishing privilege
of the individual was also revoked. The fisherman had been previously
apprehended fishing revoked by CO Panico and COs Nestel, Williamson,
O’Rourke, Hawkswell and Cussen.
CO Nestel and Szulecki and Deputies Kahn and Mortensen participated
in the Wildlife Heritage Festival at the Pequest Hatchery.
CO Paul apprehended an individual with five undersized small-mouth
bass in the Raritan River in Somerset County. The appropriate
complaint was signed.
CO Williamson, following up on information he had worked during
the 2006 Fall Bow Season, apprehended three individuals hunting
in a zone closed to hunting during the early season. The appropriate
complaints were signed.
COs Applegate and Panico conducted boat patrols on Round Valley,
Spruce Run and Merril Creek Reservoirs.
CO Panico apprehended three individuals at Pequest WMA in possession
of a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, and a green
vegetative substance believed to be marijuana. Officer Panico
charged each individual with use of State WMA contrary to regulation
and turned them over to Mansfield Police for criminal charges.
CO Applegate assisted with the apprehension.
CO Hutchinson gave a presentation on Wildlife Regulations to
the North Jersey Animal Control Officers Association.
CO Panico apprehended an individual in the Pohatcong Creek in
Warren County who had taken a small-mouth bass via the use of
a spear gun.
CO Williamson apprehended an individual in a Sandyston Township,
Sussex County junkyard, hunting deer with a .22 hornet rifle.
The subject was found sitting on a lawn chair in the back of
a box truck overlooking a bait-pile. Lieutenant Fletcher and
Deputy Schaublin assisted in the apprehension.
CO Panico apprehended four individuals hunting together in Harmony
Township in Warren County. Not one of the four possessed an
archery license and one of the four was in possession of an
Lieutenant Fletcher attended the Sussex County Federation Meeting.
Captain Cussen and Lieutenant Cianciulli attended a meeting
sponsored by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission focused
on starting a Northeast Natural Resource Investigator’s
Association. The purpose of the organization is to promote training
and cooperation among investigators in the region.
CO Martiak received information from a local farmer who caught
two men deer hunting with .22 rifles on one of his farms. The
men had shot two deer by the time the farmer stopped them. The
farmer was able to get identification off both men and determined
that one did not possess a hunting license. The appropriate summonses
Officer Tonnesen was contacted by Little Egg Harbor Twp. Police
to assist in locating a stolen 18 ft. aluminum Carolina Skiff
stolen out of Barnegat Twp. Based on information received, Officer
Tonnesen conducted a search of the lower Barnegat Bay and was
able to locate the boat hidden behind Marshelder Island. Because
of Officer Tonnesen's assistance the boat was returned to its
rightful owner. The incident is currently under investigation
and a possible suspect was questioned.
Officers Tonnesen and Mutone recently convicted two individuals
in Little Egg Harbor Twp. Court that were illegally collecting
indigenous non-game species from the wild. The two subjects were
fined a combined total of $1900.
Officers Szulecki and Martiak recently responded to a complaint
in Middletown Twp. and apprehended two individuals who were hunting
illegally on private property. The two subjects (one a non-resident
from Pennsylvania with no hunting license) hid their hunting equipment
when they saw the officer approaching and then claimed that they
were not hunting. During the following interview, the subjects
became belligerent and refused to cooperate. The Officers later
searched the surrounding area and finally located the hidden hunting
equipment. The subjects were charged with the following violations:
hunt no license and interference with the duties of a Conservation
In a continuing effort to control the damaging effects to the
environment by the illegal use of ATV’s. Officers Tonnesen,
Mutone and Szalaj conducted a recent enforcement action on the
Greenwood Forest and Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Areas.
Their efforts led to the apprehension of thirty-nine individuals
for ATV and assorted wildlife management area infractions. One
stolen ATV was recovered and six other ATV’s were impounded.
On the opening day of North Zone duck season, Officer Szulecki
apprehended an individual who had paddled his small boat through
a narrow stream to gain hunting access in a marshy area located
within a large industrial park in East Brunswick. The officer
became concerned when he realized that the hunter was hunting
well within 450 ft of the commercial buildings. Even after the
encounter, the subject still couldn’t believe that he was
found by the officer. The appropriate summons was issued.
Conservation Officers Batten and Honachefsky responded to a complaint
of illegal hunting from the New Jersey State Police in Commercial
Township, Cumberland County. The incident involved a hunter who
had unlawfully shot a fallow deer that had escaped from a pen.
During the course of the investigation the archery hunter told
the CO’s that he had been hunting in a tree stand when he
attempted to shoot the deer, however, evidence gathered at the
scene proved otherwise. The deer, which was shot in the leg, had
to be euthanized. During the interview the hunter was confronted
with evidence gathered at the scene and eventually confessed.
The hunter was charged with shooting within 450 feet of a home,
hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, careless discharge of
a weapon, damage to property and shooting a nongame/exotic species.
The subject is facing $10,000 in fines and restitution.
Conservation Officers Ely and Honachefsky investigated a dumping
complaint on the Peaslee Wildlife Management Area in Maurice River
Township, Cumberland County. During the course of the investigation
the subject confessed to the dumping violation and agreed to meet
the CO’s at the scene and remove the trash that had been
dumped. A records search indicated that the individual had several
outstanding warrants and he was taken into custody after the scene
Conservation Officer Batten was conducting a routine patrol in
Fairfield Township, Cumberland County when he located what appeared
to be a stolen ATV in the woods. CO Batten contacted the New Jersey
State Police and continued surveillance of the ATV. During CO
Batten’s surveillance he observed two individuals enter
the area and attempt to start the ATV. The two individuals were
taken into custody and additional stolen vehicles were located.
More information was gathered during interviews and the two subjects
were charged criminally.
Conservation Officer Massey recently finished a case in Atlantic
County Superior court involving an individual he found in possession
of an illegal handgun. The subject also resisted arrest when CO
Massey attempted to take him into custody. The Atlantic County
Prosecutor’s Office merged outstanding narcotics charges
on the subject with CO Massey’s charges. The individual
entered into a plea agreement with CO Massey’s charges as
the primary counts with the recommendation that he be sentenced
to eight years in prison with a minimum of five years served.
The judge agreed to the recommendation and sentencing will take
place next month.
District Six Conservation Officers assisted the New Jersey State
Police in a case involving drag racing on the Bevans Wildlife
Management Area in Cumberland County. The case revolved around
three weeks of surveillance by NJSP at the location. Over 120
summonses were written before the operation was over. During the
operation five CO’s and a deputy from District Six assisted
over 25 troopers in containing the scene and physically arresting
subjects. Approximately 30 vehicles and 60 individuals were apprehended
during the evening of the operation. Everyone at the scene was
charged with partaking in drag racing and those observed racing
were charged accordingly. Eight vehicles were confiscated and
impounded the evening of the operation. The State Police used
a helicopter to apprehend vehicles that fled the scene and deployed
a mobile command center to assist in the investigation. The State
Police issued all of the appropriate motor vehicle and criminal
Conservation Officer Ely worked with Conservation Officer Nestel
in Sussex County to observe a day in the life of a CO in the Northern
mid-September, Conservation Officer Dravis developed information
regarding a sport fisherman who moored his vessel in the Glimmer
Glass section of the Manasquan River. Allegedly, this fisherman
would land large quantities of striped bass in excess of the daily
bag limit. During the early morning hours of Wednesday, September
26, 2007, Conservation Officer Dravis and Lt. Chicketano waited
for this fisherman to enter port. At 0330 hrs., as the fisherman
docked his vessel, the officers commenced the inspection. There
were three fishermen aboard the vessel together with 10 striped
bass, each fish weighing a minimum of 25 pounds. The captain of
the vessel was issued summonses for possessing 4 striped bass
in excess of the daily bag limit together with a summons for littering
by discarding beer cans over the side of the vessel.
On September 16th, 2007, CO Petruccelli and CO James boarded the
F/V Family Pride at Cold Spring Fish Company in Cape May, NJ.
The F/V Family Pride is a general category sea scallop permit
holder which allows a 400 lb. trip limit per day. Onboard the
vessel were eight 50 lb. bags of sea scallops and the fishing
vessel trip (FVTR) accurately reflected 400 lbs. of sea scallops.
Upon further canvassing the vessel CO Petruccelli found an additional
190 pounds (4 bags) hidden underneath a bed in the bunkroom. All
590 lbs. of sea scallops were seized and sold at fair market value.
Federal Enforcement Action Report (EAR) was issued to the F/V
Family Pride for landing in excess of 400 pounds of shucked sea
scallops and also failing to accurately fill out the FVTR.
On September 17th, 2007 CO Petruccelli and CO Snellbaker made
a regulatory inspection of Little Italy Restaurant in Wildwood,
NJ. The officers explained to the owner the regulations concerning
purchasing marine fishery products from properly permitted dealers
and harvesters and how accurate records should be kept for these
purchases. The owner allowed entrance into the walk-in freezer
located at the rear of the restaurant. Inside the walk-in freezer
the officers found several frozen sea scallops packaged in 5,
10 and 20 pound plastic bags. The officers weighed all the scallops
and there was a total of 750 pounds of sea scallops. The owner
advised the officers that he had to obtain records from his accountant
and that they would be made available the following day. On September
18th CO Petrucelli met with the owner and the owner provided accurate
records for 600 pounds of sea scallops. Further interviewing the
owner, the owner admitted to purchasing a few bags directly from
fishermen that showed up at his restaurant. Summonses were issued
for inaccurate record keeping.
On Monday October 3, 2007 Officer James was checking fishermen
on the Anglesea Jetty in North Wildwood. One fisherman was acting
suspicious and Officer James instructed him to move up to the
top of the jetty while he inspected his catch. Officer James found
a bag with 15 undersize live tautog. When Officer James turned
around the fisherman had disappeared. Officer James saw the fisherman
running through the bush on the dunes and pursued by foot. Officer
James called North Wildwood Police for back up and help from local
citizens located the fisherman a few blocks away. The fisherman
was apprehended after a several minute chase and both fish and
wildlife and criminal charges were filed.
On Monday, October 8, 2007, Lieutenant Chicketano received a phone
call from an individual complaining about a small tin boat fishing
off of Lake Takannassee in the Atlantic Ocean in the borough of
Long Branch. Allegedly, this vessel had three scuba divers aboard
and had taken over the limit on tog. CO Soell was dispatched to
investigate. CO Soell set up surveillance at the Shark River inlet
and waited for the vessel to come in. After entering the inlet,
the vessel stopped at several bridges where the men again began
scuba diving. CO Soell continued his surveillance as the vessel
finally began heading into the main part of Shark River. Upon
passing the last inbound bridge, the vessel veered toward shore
at which time CO Soell observed the men unload a cooler from the
vessel prior to heading toward the Belmar Municipal Ramp. At this
time, CO Soell retrieved the secreted cooler, finding it filled
with 9 tog, 2 of which were less than 14" in length along
with 1 striped bass less than 28" in length. CO Soell now
went to the Belmar Municipal Ramp to "inspect" the vessel.
The captain and owner of the vessel stated that they had been
unable to spear any fish due to the poor clarity of the water.
This story of course changed when CO Soell showed the captain
his very own cooler in the back of CO Soell's vehicle.
A total of 6 summonses were issued by CO Soell for the violations,
specifically, a summons for Interference to the captain of the
vessel, 2 summonses to another scuba diver for sublegal tog and
over the limit tog, and 3 summonses issued to the last scuba diver
for sublegal striped bass, sublegal tog, and 5 tog over the possession
An interesting postscript is that the owner of the vessel was
apprehended by CO Dravis 2 weeks prior with possessing sublegal
On the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 2007, CO Soell received
a complaint relayed through Trenton Dispatch regarding an individual
fishing along the Point Pleasant Canal who was retaining sublegal
tog and over the limit tog. CO Soell responded and apprehended
an individual as he was leaving with 5 sublegal tog and 4 over
the limit tog. A summons for each violation was issued.