Cortez Tropical Marine’s Craig Lightner was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years for endangering a diver that ended up dying last year off the coast of California’s Catalina Islands while illegally trying to catch blue-banded gobies (Lythrypnus dalli). Sadly this is not the first run in with the law and time spent behind bars for this individual as he was convicted of smuggling people, illegal immigrants from Mexico, as well as Clarion angelfish into the country. His other less-than-savory business practices have also caught the ire of the local community and the law.
Lightner was sentenced this week after pleading guilty in July to involuntary manslaughter in the death of 47-year-old Mark Rascon, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. The two men were using air hoses and what was considered unsafe regulators. On top of this, Lightner did not teach Rascon how to use the equipment and put him in harms way. Rascon’s equipment was entangled in kelp, but instead of helping to free the other man, Lightner instead called the U.S. Coast Guard to report a missing diver.
Unfortunately, people like this bring a black eye to the industry and Lightner has proven he is a scourge to the hobby, he is a danger to society. We are sad someone had lost their life and hope Lightner stays away from this hobby and industry when he is released.