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December 6, 2019

Trenton lobster co-op sues former CEO over racketeering claims

Lobster 207, a Trenton lobster wholesale co-op owned by members of the Maine Lobstering Union, has sued its former CEO, Warren B. Pettegrow of Trenton, over allegations of racketeering. Also named as defendants are Pettegrow's company, Poseidon Charters Inc., Anthony D. and Josette G. Pettegrow of Trenton and their company Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound Inc., and Stephen M. Peabody of Addison. 

The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, claims the defendants systematically embezzled funds, submitted fraudulent invoices, up-charged for lobster products and competed with the wholesale lobster business that they had sold to Lobster 207. In a news release, the co-op said those actions, from 2017 to 2019, violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law and also constituted fraud, breach of contract and other charges.

In 2017, the Maine Lobstering Union purchased the wholesale operations of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound from Anthony and Josette Pettegrow. As part of the transaction, Warren Pettegrow was named as CEO of Lobster 207 and, according to the release, the Pettegrows agreed they would withdraw from the wholesale business and not compete with Lobster 207’s operations.

Warren Pettegrow was fired as Lobster 207’s CEO in April.

“This complaint alleges numerous schemes involving embezzlement and fraud under both the federal RICO act and Maine law,” Thimi Mina, an attorney representing Lobster 207 and the union, said in the release. “The amount of money allegedly involved in these schemes caused significant financial injuries to Lobster 207.”

Damages were not specified in the release.

The union got its start in 2013 when lobstermen, concerned about falling catch prices, approached the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 4. With District 4’s help, hundreds of lobstermen along the coast formed the Maine Lobstering Union Local 207.

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