Man jailed 47 days for illegal lobsters

Staff file photo/James A. Santapaola Jr., 42, of 16 Forest Lane is serving 47 days in Middleton Jail for possession of 28 illegally short lobsters and 19 counts of other marine fisheries violations. 

The Gloucester man caught landing 230 illegal lobsters in two separate incidents — 183 in one case, 47 in the other — now is essentially paying for his most recent crime by spending what amounts to as a day in jail for each illegal crustacean.

James A. Santapaola Jr., 42, of 16 Forest Lane, has begun serving 47 days in Middleton Jail after he entered guilty pleas to 28 counts of possession of illegally short lobsters and 19 other counts related his possession of 16 V-notched lobsters and three oversized lobsters among his illegal landings.

The 47-day sentence stemmed from his arrest Nov. 2 on Rocky Neck after officers from the Massachusetts Environmental Police, working with Gloucester police and NOAA Law Enforcement, observed him unloading 47 short and otherwise illegal live lobsters, weighing about 600 pounds, off his fishing vessel, the F/V Shearwater. 

Santapaola Jr. is serving the sentences concurrently, meaning he will serve the 47 days on each count at the same time and be eligible for release from jail at the end of the 47 days.

In the initial case, Santapaola Jr. was arrested Nov. 8, 2016, after landing 183 illegal lobsters in one day at the East Gloucester lobster wholesaler, Capt. Joe & Sons, which never took possession of the shellfish. As part of a plea deal, he pleaded guilty to 20 counts and received two fines totaling $10,050. His state lobster license also was suspended for three months, from June 11, 2017, to Sept. 10, 2017.

Also, while Santapaola Jr. is not required to make payments on the fines while in Middleton Jail, Gloucester District Court Judge Michael A. Patten, who levied the jail sentence, declined to waive the remainder of the fines. 

As of April 1, Santapaola Jr. has paid $910 toward the first fine of $5,550 from the November 2016 case, according to District Court Clerk Melissa Teixeira Prince. Teixeira Prince said Santapaola Jr. has not paid any of the second fine of $4,450. The court order from that case calls for him to make monthly payments of $100.

Santapaola Jr.'s attorney, Thomas O'Shea, previously said his client was current with his fine payments. O'Shea could not be reached for comment Monday regarding the status of his client's licenses, which had been under "discussion" previously.

Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or


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