Milpitas Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Undersized Sharks

California man to face charges in South Florida nurse shark operation

By JULIA CHEEVER Bay City News
|  Thursday, Aug 8, 2013  |  Updated 10:54 AM CDT
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A Milpitas, Calif., man who ran a wholesale fish business pleaded guilty in  federal court in San Francisco on Thursday to charges related to illegally catching  and selling undersized California leopard sharks from San Francisco Bay.

Dean Trinh, 43, pleaded guilty to three counts of illegally  selling the sharks, six counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Trinh entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg and will be sentenced by Seeborg on Nov. 12.

Trinh operated his fish business in Milpitas under the names of  AquatopUSA LLC, High Tech Auctions and Hightechauction.com.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Trinh admitted during the plea to  taking undersized California leopard sharks from the bay and selling them to  customers in Canada and Florida.

Trinh caught the sharks from a boat called "Shark Hunter" and  advertised them for sale on the Internet, according to a May 23 indictment by  a federal grand jury.

Leopard shark pups are born 10 inches long. A state law prohibits  sales of the fish until they are at least 36 inches long.

Trinh was charged under the federal Lacey Act, a U.S. law that  makes it illegal to acquire, transport or sell fish or wildlife in violation  of state laws.

The conspiracy conviction was for scheming to purchase nurse shark  pups over the Internet. That charge was originally filed in a separate  federal case in Florida and was later combined with the other charges in U.S.  District Court in San Francisco.

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