Jud Hawkins, the City of Eastlake’s prosecutor, has decided against charging well-known Lake Erie charter captain and food vendor William Goble with multiple alleged state fish-law violations.
Instead, Hawkins and Goble came to a mutually acceptable agreement. Rather than moving forward with any misdemeanor charges and a possible felony charge the Eastlake resident is required to forfeit his Lake Erie fishing guide license, among other things.
Wildlife Division officials agreed with Hawkins’ actions.
Also, Goble’s wife said that he is in the hospital and thus unavailable for comment.
At issue was an alleged misuse of sport-caught fish that were being
sold commercially via Goble’s food-related business activities, both
Hawkins and the Wildlife Division said.
Yet because Goble is an older person and in generally poor health, and also because the alleged violations are considered low-level misdemeanors, Hawkins instead worked out the plea arrangement with Goble.
“The investigation got the point where there might have been charges
brought but I decided to seek a resolution without the need of any
criminal charges,” Hawkins said. “If anyone wants to blame someone,
Citing that the Ohio Revised Code carries statute of limitations on some of the points found by the Wildlife Division’s investigation, Hawkins gave weight to other, mitigating, factors as well.
That weight included the fact that Goble is an older person and in generally poor health, and also because the alleged violations are considered low-level.
However, with that being said, the facts indicated to him was that “Mr. Goble was catching fish recreationally but selling them in his restaurant,” Hawkins said.
“And I think if we had pursued this further we could have successfully brought charges,” Hawkins said.
Terms under the agreement spell out that Goble has to surrender his Ohio sport-fishing guides license and can no longer use sport-caught fish for any food-related business activity, Hawkins says.
Ohio has a long-standing law against sport-caught fish being sold or used commercially. Exceptions include such Lake Erie species as yellow perch, but only when covered by a Ohio commercial fishing license, which Goble does not have.
Goble’s future actions will, however, be monitored by the Wildlife Division. And any additional fish law violations then charges would be brought, against the Eastlake resident, Hawkins also says.
“I hope he doesn’t because I don’t want to charge the guy,” Hawkins said. “It was not a crime that I wanted to spend a lot of time on. He’s an old guy who led a good life.”
Besides, Hawkins says, “all the state wanted to do was for Mr. Goble to terminate any further activity.”
That’s true, says Gino Barna, the Wildlife Division’s Lake Erie law enforcement unit supervisor.
“Since there were no charges, we do not have a statement,” Barna said. “However, we are satisfied with the prosecutor’s decision on how the case was handled.”
Likewise, calling the Wildlife Division’s investigation very thorough, Hawkins said that the investigators’ conduct spoke well of the agents.
“They did a good job,” Hawkins said.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn