It was a fish story that didn't hold water.

Francisco Sicre turned a $100 citation for fishing without a license into a perjury conviction punishable by a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to 18 months in federal prison.Sicre, 37, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Vitunac it couldn't have been him fishing illegally on a boat ramp at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in December 1996. He claimed his car was stolen four days earlier.

The magistrate took him at his word, letting him off with the warning: "If this turns out not to be true, you're in a heap of trouble."

Apparently it wasn't, so he was.

Prosecutors discovered that Si-cre reported his car stolen a month after he got the illegal fishing ticket, so he was charged with perjury. He was convicted last week.

Defense attorney Joaquin Perez plans an appeal, saying it was improper for Vitunac to switch from judge to witness by testifying for the government in the perjury trial.