Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake: J. P. Nelson out of business for life after serious poaching violations
James P. Nelson –Tidal Fish License # 271 Suspended -Prohibited from engaging in ANY commercial fishing activities during the following period: 10/1/18 – 9/30/19.
The Department of Natural Resources Police reports that they have once again nabbed the notorious JP Nelson, who has been identified in more than a dozen arrests and convictions as one of the chief pirate poachers of the Chesapeake.
DNR police issued more than 100 charges against six seafood workers in St. Mary’s County for multiple violations after they received information about alleged illegal activity at Nelson Seafood in Hollywood; officers conducted surveillance and investigated the establishment throughout March.
Officers observed three individuals participating in illegal commercial oystering-related activities, including selling and harvesting while on suspended and revoked licenses. Additionally, officers reported observing false tagging information, false oyster reporting, and storage of oysters in an unlicensed cooler facility,
Were your crabs bought here nasty and made you sick?
Police issued charges on April 20, 2022, including multiple health department violations for storage and facility licensing.
BEWARE: Nelson Seafood advertises on Facebook and has many local residents as customers.
Those charged were Caleb Hancock, 20; Andrew Nelson, 26; Robert Nelson Jr., 39; James Nelson, 45; Tyler Nelson, 19; and Melanie Wheeler, 43. Fines range from $350 to a maximum of $25,000 and up to one year in jail.
Robert S. Nelson, Jr. –Oyster Authorization/Entitlement under TFL # 3601 Revoked Effective: 7/30/12
- Permanently prohibited from engaging in the commercial harvest of wild oysters in Maryland.
Pirate Poachers of the Bay: J P Nelson wasn’t going to go quietly, decided to fight Oyster Police’s efforts to check his booty
HOLLYWOOD, MD. — A convicted felon and illustrious leader of the pack when it comes to the Pirate Poachers of the Chesapeake Bay, J. P. Nelson of Hollywood, Md., refused to cooperate with the Oyster Police of Maryland and ended up going to jail.
During the final days of the 2014-15 oyster season, Maryland Natural Resources Police officers charged J. P. Nelson of Hollywood with illegal harvesting.
Nelson was arrested Tuesday, April 15, 2015, the last day of the season, after he hindered attempts by NRP officers to check his catch.
James Phillip Nelson, 38, of Hollywood, was charged with obstructing a law enforcement officer and refusing to obey a lawful order. In addition, NRP will be issuing citations for oyster law violations.
Officers checking catches at Feldman’s Marine Railway saw Nelson leave the dock and return at about 2:50 p.m. As the officer approached Nelson and his helper after they trailered the vessel, Nelson attempted to reverse his trailer toward the boat ramp. During the distraction, the helper hid a bucket among the outbuildings.
Nelson was angry and refused to comply with multiple orders from the officers, who attempted to handcuff him to keep him in one location. The waterman continued to resist and was sprayed with oleoresin capsicum, or OC, spray. He was taken into custody and driven to the St. Mary’s County Jail.
Officers inspected and measured the 12 bushels of oysters on Nelson’s vessel and found that 10 bushels contained between seven and 10 percent undersized oysters. The bucket contained 28 percent undersized oysters.
Nelson is to be charged with overharvesting, improper tagging, and having unculled oysters.
Nelson has been the recipient of Good Old Boys justice in St. Mary’s County for decades.
The following is a run-down of his criminal and pirate poacher outlaw record:
- On Jan. 7, 2015, cited by NRP Officer Grice for failing to comply with an oyster tag required on products he sells. That case is pending trial on May 7, 2015.
- On August 14, 2014, was cited by NRP Officer Ball for possession of undersized crabs. In Charles County District Court, Charles County States Attorney Anthony Covington did a plea deal in which Nelson filed a guilty plea in return for a Zero fine and no time.
- Indicted in St. Mary’s County Circuit Court as a result of an investigation by Maryland State Trooper Matthew Davis for a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Nelson entered a guilty plea on Oct. 11, 2013, and in a plea deal, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail, which is the magic number of months be retained in the local jail and avoid the state prison system. He was allowed work release, which permitted him to return to his day job of being a pirate poacher of the Chesapeake while sleeping in the jail at night.
- Cited by NRP Officer R. Griggs on Oct. 5, 2011, for possession of oysters under 3 inches in size; Nelson filed a plea deal in St. Mary’s County District Court which netted him a fine of $277.00.
- Charged criminally with theft by Maryland State Police Trooper Michael T. Moore, Nelson’s charges were dropped by St. Mary’s County States Attorney Richard Fritz on Nov. 3, 2011, in District Court in Leonardtown.
- Cited by NRP Officer R. Starliper on March 8, 2011, with possession of unculled and undersized oysters, Nelson entered into a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz and entered a guilty plea. He was fined $132.50.
- Charged with second-degree assault by Officer Matthew Rogers in District Court on a summons issued for an incident that occurred on June 18, 2010. St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz put the charge on the Stet Docket on Jan. 27, 2011, with no fine and no time.
- One of the most outrageous incidents for pirate poachers of the Chesapeake Bay to have been revealed recently in THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY has to be when Nelson was cited on Nov. 20, 2009, with possession of 15 bushels of undersized oysters by NRP Officer M. Dyson. In a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz, Nelson was fined $327.50 on April 28, 2010. With that kind of Good Old Boy treatment, it is easy to understand how Fritz wins the loyalties of so much of the outlaw watermen crowd which act as part of his campaign arm in local elections.
- As Fritz had his election year opponent under indictment with over 120 counts of land fraud – all of which ended in not guilty verdicts or were thrown out by an independent prosecutor – he apparently found nothing wrong with dropping all charges of possession of 17 bushels of undersized oysters. That charge had been placed against Nelson on Nov. 20, 2009, by NRP Sgt. Garren.
- Cited by NRP Officer M. Kraemer on May 21, 2009, for crabbing after hours, Nelson obtained a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz on July 28, 2009, and paid a fine of $102.50.
- Cited by NRP Officer D. Riley for dredging oysters in an area reserved for hand tonging on Nov. 6, 2008, Nelson once again found Good Old Boy Justice from States Attorney Richard Fritz. In District Court on April 24, 2009, Fritz dropped the charges against Nelson.
- Charged with theft on Sept. 19, 2006, by Maryland State Trooper K. Shughart, Nelson appeared in St. Mary’s District Court on Jan. 29, 2007. That day, Fritz dropped the charge, letting Nelson go free once again.
- Cited by NRP Officer David Bailey with commercial crabbing after hours on Sept. 21, 2004, Nelson worked a plea deal with Fritz on Nov. 19, 2004, and paid a fine of $105.00.
- Cited by NRP Officer Charles Vernon with commercial crabbing after hours on May 25, 2002, Nelson entered into a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Richard Fritz on July 19, 2002, and paid a fine of $100.00.
- Cited by NRP Officer Charles Vernon on June 14, 1998, Nelson entered into a plea deal with St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey and paid a fine of $70 for possession of undersized hard crabs. On a charge of exceeding his catch limit of crabs on the same date, he paid a fine of $100.00.
- In a charge of arson for an incident that took place on March 11, 1996, St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey dropped the charge placed by Maryland State Trooper Charles A. Ewing. Nelson was represented by Fritz, who was then in private practice when Dorsey dumped the charge on Oct. 10, 1996. Fritz then attempted to have the record expunged, which was opposed by Dorsey, and thus the record is still available as a public record.
- Charged by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Detective Michael Starnes with a fourth-degree sex offense on Oct. 26, 1995, Nelson entered a guilty plea on March 28, 1996. He was sentenced to prison for one year with 245 days suspended. A charge of contributing to the condition of a child was dropped as part of the plea deal agreed to by St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey and Nelson’s attorney Margaret Abraham.
- Charged by NRP Officer Bradley A. Borden with possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, Nelson entered a plea of guilty in St. Mary’s District Court and paid a fine of $100.00.
- Charged by St. Mary’s Sheriff’s Detective Samuel T. Haynie with assault by threat and stalking on March 10, 1996, Nelson appeared in St. Mary’s District Court on Oct. 10, 1996, where St. Mary’s States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey dropped the charges with no fine, no time.
A frequent reason used by prosecutors for dropping charges against a criminal facing serious time is when the accused provides information on drug dealers to the police. With so many dropped and reduced charges on Nelson’s record, it’s a pretty good bet he has sent the cops to see many of his friends. In this case, Nelson’s defense attorney was Richard Fritz, who was known far and wide as the best defense attorney in the region with a large stable of drug dealers as clients.