Lobsterman accused of witness retaliation in headless tuna case  

Harold E. Wentworth, 41, of Gloucester was arrested on charges that on March 12 he retaliated against the prime witness against him in the case of an illegally caught tuna, which he pleaded guilty to beheading and leaving in some Gloucester woods.

The Gloucester man convicted of lopping the head off an illegally caught Atlantic bluefin tuna in 2017 before dumping it in the woods off Revere Street is due back in Gloucester District Court on Friday after police arrested him on new charges.

Harold E. Wentworth, 41, with listed addresses of 28 Revere St. and 24 Liberty St., was arrested Wednesday by officers from Massachusetts Environmental Police and Gloucester Police on charges that on March 12 he retaliated against the prime witness against him in the tuna case.

He is accused of dumping some of the witness’s fishing gear into Pigeon Cove in Rockport.

According to the Massachusetts Environmental Police report, Wentworth is charged with retaliating against a witness, malicious destruction of property, destruction of a fishing trap and illegal disposal of rubbish.

Wentworth, who most recently worked as a lobsterman fishing out of Rockport, is being held without bail in Middleton Jail on a parole violation, as well as on $5,000 bail for the new charges. Friday’s court hearing is a bail status hearing.

On Feb. 11 in Peabody District Court, Wentworth avoided a trial by admitting his role in the tuna caper. District Court Judge James Barretto fined him $1,000 and sentenced him to one year’s probation.

Those punishments were in addition to the $15,000 fine levied earlier against Wentworth by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement for catching the 400-pound tuna, valued as high as $10,000, out of season.

Barretto also ordered Wentworth to avoid any contact with any of the case’s witnesses — some of whom already had expressed concerns of retaliation by Wentworth.

According to police reports of Wednesday’s arrest, the prime witness against Wentworth contacted Environmental Police Officer Ryan Lennon on March 28 that he suspected Wentworth dumped some of his gear into Pigeon Cove earlier in the month and may have committed other retaliatory acts, such as cutting his lobster trawls.

On Monday, Lennon and the witness reviewed security footage of Pigeon Cove from March 12.

“I was immediately able to identify Wentworth in the video from my previous interactions with him,” Lennon wrote in his report. “It clearly shows at (approximately 3:01 p.m.), Wentworth intentionally and deliberately throws several large totes of fishing rope belonging to (the witness) into the harbor. There are several different camera angles showing this.”

Video evidence showed Wentworth landed the illegal bluefin tuna off the boat Went-Way on Nov. 20, 2017, at the Pigeon Cove Fishermen’s Co-Op, 15 days after the legal tuna fishing season had ended.

Three days later, it was found in the woods off Revere Street in Annisquam. Witnesses saw a vehicle with Wentworth at the wheel, dragging the tuna behind it down Revere Street before it was dumped. A tow truck from Tally’s was required to remove it.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.