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Justices: Fisherman is off the hook in grouper-tossing case

February 25, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says a fisherman convicted of throwing undersized grouper off his boat is off the hook.

In a 5-4 opinion, the justices on Wednesday threw out the conviction of commercial fishing boat captain John Yates, who was prosecuted under a law meant to stop fraud in the accounting industry.

Yates was convicted of getting rid of fish he had caught that were under the minimum legal size permitted in the Gulf of Mexico. A Florida fish and wildlife officer said Yates illegally dumped the smaller fish overboard to avoid prosecution.

The law’s anti-shredding provision prohibits destruction of “any tangible object” during a federal investigation. But Yates argued it was aimed at the destruction of financial documents — not fish.

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