Mendocino Abalone Poacher to be Sentenced to State Prison

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

A previously convicted abalone poacher is facing a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to new poaching charges.

Dung Van Nguyen, 41, of Sacramento was charged with poaching abalone along the Mendocino coast and selling them for personal profit. On Sept. 11, Nguyen appeared in the Mendocino County Superior Court and pled guilty to one felony count of forging an abalone report card and one misdemeanor count of taking abalone for commercial purposes.

Nguyen is a repeat offender with multiple convictions for similar poaching crimes. As a condition of his plea, he will be required to return to the court for sentencing on Nov. 11, where he will be remanded into custody. The conditions of his sentence will include 32 months in state prison, a fine of $15,000 and a lifetime revocation of his fishing license.

Wildlife officers observed Nguyen take at least 35 abalone in 2013, which is 17 in excess of the annual limit. The case was investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Special Operations Unit, a unique team of officers tasked with investigating persons involved in the black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

“Our team exists to stop people from stealing the state’s fish and wildlife for profit, and to stop people like Nguyen from engaging in this type of behavior,” said Capt. Nathaniel Arnold, head of the Special Operations Unit.

Tim Stoen, the Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted the case, said, “I commend the hard work of the department’s Special Operations Unit on this case.”

CDFW appreciates the effort of the vast majority of abalone divers who comply with the regulations, particularly the use of the abalone report card (which was an integral part of successful prosecution in this case). Their cooperation helps to keep the fishery healthy and sustainable for future generations.