Little Fish, Big House: Kevin Thompson, reverend of the East Bay's only Unification Church, pleaded guilty last week to felony conspiracy for running the largest baby-leopard-shark poaching ring in US history.
Thompson, 48, of San Leandro, is scheduled to be sentenced in January in Oakland federal court.
Thompson was arrested and indicted earlier this year after federal investigators discovered that he and at least two congregants of his San Leandro church had hauled more than six thousand juvenile leopard sharks from San Francisco Bay (see "The Moonies and The Sharks," feature, 7/12). He and his coconspirators then sold the exotic and beautiful fish to home-aquarium owners around the world. It is illegal to possess or sell baby leopard sharks under both federal and state law.
It's unclear whether Thompson's superiors, including the church's supreme leader, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, had sanctioned his illegal activities, or whether Thompson has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. His plea agreement was filed under seal and Assistant US Attorney Maureen Bessette said she would not comment on the case until January. His attorney, Frank McCabe, did not return a phone call seeking comment.