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June 21, 1999

For more information contact:
Greg Huljack at 609-292-9430

The New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife's Bureau of Law Enforcement recently concluded a statewide undercover investigation on the illegal sale of striped bass, white-tailed deer and black bear in Bergen, Cumberland, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris and Somerset counties. Current state law prohibits the sale of white-tailed deer (since 1918), striped bass (since 1991) and black bear.

"New Jersey's deer, bear and striped bass are reserved for the enjoyment of its residents and visitors -- NOT for the black market profit of a few," said Division Director Bob McDowell.

During Phase I of the investigation, conservation officers reportedly sold 373 striped bass and eight deer, as well as the parts of three bears in addition to purchasing 15 striped bass or servings of bass at restaurants. Officers identified 21 restaurants that sold and/or purchased these protected species for resale to customers. In this phase of the investigation, 51 charges were filed with penalties ranging from $100 to $3,000 for each offense.

Phase II of the investigation focused on fishermen who were trafficking striped bass. During that investigation, Edward Adams of Port Norris, Cumberland County, is alleged to have sold 23 striped bass to undercover officers and been in possession of 25 weakfish over the daily catch limit. It is also alleged that Oconnell Brown of Port Norris, sold 47 striped bass, 39 of which were undersize to undercover officers.

Phase III focused on a restaurant that was serving wild venison. In that investigation, the state alleged Andrew Tomko of Frenchtown, Hunterdon County, of purchasing wild deer from an undercover officer with the intent to prepare and distribute the meat for resale. Eleven charges were filed for the possession and illegal purchase of six deer. If convicted, Mr. Tomko faces up to $13,000 in penalties.

In addition to the other phases of the investigation, conservation officers arrested Mr. Won Ping Jong of Flushing, New York on May 29. Jong, 41, is charged with three counts of illegally purchasing black bear parts (gall bladders and paws), five counts of possession of black bear parts and two counts of unlawfully purchasing white-tailed deer. Jong allegedly purchased 22 deer fetuses and 11 sets of deer antlers still in velvet for resale on the folk medicine black market. If convicted, Jong faces up to $33,500 in fines and more than four years in prison.