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FWC lieutenant honored by U.S. Attorney's Office

News Release

Monday, March 22, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

He would humbly tell you he was just doing his job.  But the federal government calls the marine conservation work of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Lt. David Bingham "outstanding."

Last month, the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida honored Bingham, who heads a patrol squad in Broward County, with an Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award. Federal, state or local law enforcement officers who distinguish themselves by virtue of the work they performed in a criminal prosecution receive the award.

"Winning this award is a highlight of my career," said Bingham.  "It's rewarding to know that the federal government recognized the FWC for our work in resource protection."

The award recognized Bingham and NOAA Special Agent James Rodriquez for their work in "Operation Mind Games."  The two worked together in 2005 to bust charter fishing vessels based in North Miami Beach for illegally harvesting and landing sailfish.  The scheme also included an undisclosed deal between the charter operation and a local taxidermy company to pay the defendants for inducing anglers to sign contracts for mounting the sailfish.  The defendants in the case were sentenced in 2008.

"Lt. Bingham's expertise in dealing with state and federal fisheries is a huge asset to our agency," said Bingham's supervisor, Capt. Denise Warrick.  "The cases he has been involved with have brought a tremendous amount of revenue dollars back to Florida. We are proud that he has been recognized by the U.S. Attorney's Office for his efforts."

"Lt. David Bingham's efforts in this case not only led to the conviction of a team of environmental criminals, but resulted in restitution to hundreds of anglers, mostly tourists, who had been scammed by the charter group," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-Fitzgerald, who prosecuted the case.  "The illegal landings and fraud on our state's visitors would likely never have come to light and been subjected to both state and federal scrutiny but for his dedication to resource protection. The public should applaud and support such cooperative enforcement efforts by the wildlife officers and agents of South Florida."

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