If you’ve dined at popular Houston eateries Ruggles Green or Ruggles Black in the past four years, it’s likely that you’ve consumed fish that was caught and sold illegally.
A press release issued by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department alleges that former Ruggles Green and Ruggles Black chef Bruce Molzan has run an extensive “illegal seafood network” in Houston since at least 2013. According to the release, Mozan was responsible for funneling 28,000 pounds of illegally caught red snapper, tuna, grouper, and amberjack into the city over the past four years.
The two-year investigation conducted by Texas Parks & Wildlife uncovered that Molzan would buy the illegally-caught fish from unlicensed commercial fishermen, then send them to his restaurants to be served to diners. The seafood racket reportedly earned Molzan a hefty profit of more than $400,000 and more than 200 Class C misdemeanor citations ranging from “unlawful purchase of aquatic products by a restaurant” and “operating without a wholesale fish dealer’s license.”
“Not only did these unscrupulous actors violate recreational fishing regulations at an extreme level for personal profit, but they also circumvented restrictions and rules governing the possession, safe handling and sale of commercial aquatic products intended for human consumption,” said Texas Parks & Wildlife law enforcement director Col. Craig Hunter. “That is not something we in law enforcement will tolerate and we are confident these individuals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows.”
Ruggles Green contacted Eater to say that the restaurant has been under new ownership since October 2016, and has since not received any citations for serving illegal seafood.
Note: This post has been updated to indicate that Bruce Molzan is no longer affiliated with Ruggles Green as of October 1, 2016.