A top Miami-Dade County Public Schools official was arrested and jailed in the Florida Keys Monday on charges he and a friend caught and kept more than 20 undersized fish.
Steffond Cone, 51, was booked into Monroe County jail in Marathon on three second-degree misdemeanor conservation charges around 12:30 p..m. He was released about five hours later with an order to appear before a judge.
Cone, an assistant superintendent who's in charge of schools operations for the Miami-Dade district, did not return a phone call and email Tuesday seeking comment.
Miami-Dade Public Schools issued a statement Tuesday afternoon that, as it stands, the arrest would not affect Cone's job.
"This is a personal matter involving a citation issued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as a result of a misdemeanor allegation," Daisy Gonzalez-Diego, the school district's spokeswoman, said in an email. "This individual has had an unblemished record during his 28-year tenure with Miami-Dade Public Schools. We do not expect this non-school related incident to impact his employment."
Cone, whose annual salary is $140,034, was hired by the district in 1991, according to county records.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers patrolling near the Long Key Bridge spotted Cone and Jimmy Lee Fuller, 53, from Florida City, walking back to the parking lot on the north end of the bridge carrying two coolers.
Inside one of the coolers were four yellow jacks and a black plastic trash bag, according to an arrest report. Inside the trash bag were multiple mutton snappers, and more were inside the other cooler, Wildlife Officer Zachary Hoppe stated.
In total, there were 21 mutton snapper.
"Every single mutton snapper was under the legal minimum size of 18 inches," Hoppe said in his report.
He and Fuller also had too many fish, according to Hoppe. The bag limit for mutton snapper is five per person. Since there was another man with Cone and Fuller, who was not arrested, they would have been allowed to keep 15 muttons, had they been of legal size.
Officer William Thompson said in his report that Cone told him he thought the size limit on muttons was 16 inches. However, according to Thompson, 19 of the 21 fish were shorter than 16 inches.
Fuller said Tuesday that he did not know that the fish he caught were undersized, and it was "a total shock" that he and Cone were arrested.
"I wasn't expecting to go to jail over a fish," he said. "They don't have to worry about me coming to the Keys anymore."
Miami Herald staff writer Colleen Wright contributed to this report.