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Lieutenant Gary Duncan showed a lobster tail that the state?s Environmental Police say was illegally taken from Boston Harbor. (Justine Hunt/ Globe Staff)

During harbor lobster haul, police surveillance set a trap
By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Globe Correspondent | August 1, 2006

Two Massachusetts Environmental Police officers watched the lobster boat Linda come in to Quarterdeck Marina in East Boston Saturday night, after a long day in the harbor.

Breaking News Alerts During two weeks of surveillance, some of it from shore and some on boats, they suspected the boat's owner, Anthony Gozzo, had been illegally catching protected lobsters.

But when Lieutenant Gary Duncan searched Gozzo's Lincoln Continental trunk, he was surprised to find hundreds of lobster tails, the most he had uncovered in an arrest in 10 years.

``I called for three more officers, because it was greater than what we anticipated," Duncan said. ``This is very uncommon to have something of this magnitude."

Snapping a lobster's tail at sea and discarding its body in the water is against state law because licensed fishermen are permitted to sell only live lobsters to wholesale distributors. In Boston Harbor, fishermen must throw back a lobster measuring less than 3 inches, or more than 5 inches, from the eye socket to the end of its shell.

Police found 203 lobster tails in Gozzo's car. With only tails, there is no way to tell whether the lobsters were of legal size. Also in the trunk were nine female lobsters bearing eggs, several oversized lobsters, and hundreds of lobster claws, all of which are illegal.

Gozzo, 52, of Billerica and his stern man -- Mark Turcotte, 20, of Lowell -- pleaded not guilty yesterday in East Boston District Court to charges of violating commercial fishing laws . The pair could face more than $35,000 in fines and possible jail time, Duncan said.

Police said they received complaints from other lobstermen in the harbor about Gozzo, who has a commercial license. Authorities seized Gozzo's car and his 35-foot lobster boat during the arrest.

Gozzo said after the arraignment that he was innocent and had never seen the lobster tails officers brought to the arraignment, the same ones officers said were recovered from Gozzo's car.

``They blew it out of proportion," Gozzo said. ``They drummed up a bunch of charges. The lobsters I had were all legal lobsters."

Turcotte said that Saturday was only his second time on the boat, and that he was just helping his girlfriend's father.

``We're not animals," he said.

But Environmental Police said Gozzo broke the law. ``This is a guy who knew what he was doing and was hoping not to get caught," said Major Kathleen Dolan of the Environmental Police. ``He was making as much money as he could as fast as he could."

Police are investigating whom Gozzo was selling the lobster meat to. Dolan said it is possible that the meat went to local restaurants for sandwiches or lobster salad.

Gozzo said that he had sold lobsters to Live Lobster Co. in Chelsea, a wholesaler.

Alan Brown, the company's general manager, said that he had purchased 400 pounds of lobster from Gozzo in July, but that all the crustaceans he bought were were alive and none had eggs. ``We have nothing to hide," Brown said.

As Duncan sorted through the lobster tails in a cooler after the arraignment yesterday, he said he was relieved by the arrests .

``It's sad when someone is breaking the law and disrespecting the environment," he said.

? Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.