Two Martin County Men Plead Guilty to Violating Federal Law Governing Ginseng Sales | USAO-EDKY

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Two Lovely, Kentucky men, Sherman Jude, 73, and Johnathon Jude, 40, pleaded guilty on Thursday, October 30, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward Atkins, to violations of the Lacey Act regarding ginseng purchases and record keeping of said purchases.

The harvesting and sale of ginseng is governed by state regulations, and includes record keeping requirements and a limited harvest season. According to their plea agreements, Sherman Jude was a dealer of wild American ginseng; and his son, Johnathon Jude, worked with him to keep records of the ginseng purchased from diggers and harvesters.

The investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that over a period of years, the Judes had falsified the required Kentucky Ginseng Purchase Forms for multiple purchases of wild ginseng, including not keeping records of all the purchases, and purchasing ginseng that was known to have been harvested from another state, without being properly certified before entering Kentucky. Sherman Jude also acknowledged that, as of August 2019, he had purchased 12.5 pounds of ginseng that had been harvested improperly, out of season.

The Judes were indicted in June 2020. 

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, jointly made the announcement. 

The investigation was directed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.  The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily K. Greenfield.

The Judes are scheduled to be sentenced on February 17, 2021.  Sherman Jude faces a maximum of five years in prison.  Johnathon Jude faces up one year in prison.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the Court, after its consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the applicable federal sentencing statutes. 

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