Palm Beach Resident Sentenced for Illegally Importing 1,500 Pounds of Conch From Bahamas

Categories: WTFlorida
Conch. It looks better in chowder form.
It's a hard conch life for Robert Fortunato. 

Federal prosecutors announced that the 55-year-old Palm Beach County resident has been sentenced to a year of probation and will give up his 15-foot Mako boat for illegally importing 1,500 pounds of queen conch from the Bahamas. 

According to a criminal complaint, Customs and Border Protection officers stopped Fortunato's boat in February near Jupiter Inlet. 

Fortunato informed the officers that he and a buddy were coming back from Grand Cay, Bahamas, and said he had no plants or animals or drugs or weapons or wads of cash or other illicit items Border Protection folks aren't fond of. 

He was lying. 

When officers searched the boat, they found 1,500 pounds of Queen Conch. The delectable sea snail was "concealed in every compartment on the vessel," according to court documents. 

It's not illegal to bring back conch, and Fortunato had a permit to do so. The problem was that he was allowed to bring back only six at a time. The quantity of conch on the boat was "vastly in excess of six," according to court documents. 

A typical conch chowder recipe calls for two cups conch meat. Chances are Fortunato wasn't some chowder gourmand; he more likely planned to offload the haul to local fishmongers.

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My Voice Nation Help

Bahamians sold them to him at Grand Cay - he did not take anything, Bahamians did, and I bet they were under-measure too.

Bahamian Fisherman
Bahamian Fisherman

I know this guy..he works in the medical profession...I guess he wont be bringing in anymore conch for a about never again...this is the stuff that pisses me off when U.S. Citizens come to the Bahmas...a soveriegn nation and raid our natural resource...just let a Bahamian try to commercial fish in Florida waters...we get lock up quick and key thrown away...


Rosie would have given him a receipt  if he would have asked.  -dumb.

Bahamian Fisherman
Bahamian Fisherman

So what if Bahamians sold them...Fortunato knew it was wrong for AN AMERICAN to bring back conch without a CITES permit. Trying to make the BIG BUCKS on the down low has his ass in hot water. And as a matter of FACT GRAND CAY conch are among the largest in the get your act together before you open your mouth. As I said I know the guy and sooner or later he was going to get caught. AND HE DID!

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