On April 30 of last year, officers of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Marine Patrol searched a room at Jasper’s Motel occupied by elver dealer Bill Sheldon. Officers also searched the trucks Sheldon used to transport live elvers. FILE PHOTO

Elver dealer may face federal charges for buying illegal eels

ELLSWORTH — A major elver dealer said Thursday morning that he will likely face federal charges in connection with his alleged purchase and interstate shipment of eels that authorities say were illegally harvested in South Carolina.

“I haven’t been charged. I haven’t been indicted. But I fully expect to be, knowing that I am part of an East Coast elver investigation,” William Sheldon said Thursday morning during a brief conversation at his Ellsworth buying station.

On April 30 last year, agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Marine Patrol and other law enforcement agencies executed a federal search warrant on a room at Jasper’s Motel that Sheldon occupied during the elver fishing season. The search extended to Sheldon’s two trucks parked at the motel and to his home.

“It was a complete surprise,” Sheldon said on Thursday.

Although the search warrant was executed more than a year ago, the affidavit by law enforcement officials on which it was based was kept sealed by the court until Tuesday of this week.

As of Thursday morning, dealers were paying harvesters about $2,100 per pound for elvers. The price was at about the same level a year ago.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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