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Attorney Poaches Lobsters, Pisses Off Everyone
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Koeppel attorney poached lobster

Summary: An attorney and his sons have gotten a slap on the wrist for poaching lobsters in the Keys.

As lawyers we advise our clients to obey the law. We also caution them not to conceal or destroy evidence. (Well, hopefully most of us do). But what happens when that evidence is a really tasty piece of lobster? Or even 28 really tasty crustaceans?


Civil litigator Steven Koeppel recently tried to nab some lobsters and realized he was the one in hot water instead. The lawyer took a fishing trip with his two sons in the Florida Keys. On their excursion, the men bagged 46 lobsters–28 more than the legal limit. To make matters worse, they didn’t even have their saltwater fishing license, lobster stamp, or necessary safety gear on their boat.

(Here’s Mr. Koeppel, looking happy at the thought of butter-drenched claw meat):

Lobster killer

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(He looks nice, right?)

When officials from the Florida Fish and Game Commission boarded their boat for an inspection, Koeppel and his sons tried to hide their hard-shelled friends. Wildlife officials knew something was up, and ultimately nailed the attorney and his progeny on poaching charges.

Typically violators of the law are fined on a per-lobster basis. However, the penalty is ultimately left to the judge’s discretion. One of the wildlife officers who searched Koeppel’s boat says most people would have been fined at least $500 each for the offense.

In this case Koeppel and his sons were only charged $100 each plus $228 for court costs and $50 in prosecution fees. Additionally, the men were given six months of probation, barring them from Monroe County waters. However, the probation will be over by the time the 2016 lobster season begins.

Many in the community are outraged. How could Koeppel and his sons get off with a mere slap on the wrist? Shouldn’t lawyers know better than to willfully conceal evidence and flout the law? And what about the judge? Mr. Koeppel is a board-certified civil litigator and partner at the firm of Yeslow & Koeppel. Did he have a personal relationship with the judge?

Wildlife officer Bobby Dube says this about the judge: “This guy is probably going to get slammed.”

The owner of Scubavice Dive Center in Ramiro Palma adds, “It just shows why people break the law. They know they can get away with it.”

Some in the legal community are hoping the Florida Bar Association will be less lenient than the judge. If the Florida Bar investigates and decides Koeppel violated any attorney ethics rules, it may come up with a punishment of their own.

We will keep you posted on any late-breaking developments. In the meantime, just remember:

Lobster - live long meme


Photos: (top), (middle), (bottom)



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