2 Plead Guilty to Sinking 54-Foot Fishing Boat to Collect Insurance

Two men pleaded guilty in San Diego Wednesday to conspiring to destroy their own vessel, a 57-foot boat used for charter sport-fishing trips, in order to fraudulently collect an insurance payout. Christopher Switzer, 39, and Mark Gillette, 37, each face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced March 6 in U.S. District Court. They are required to reimburse the U.S. Coast Guard more than $15,000 for the price of launching a rescue helicopter and other costs. Last Oct. 11, the defendants headed out to sea on their boat, the Commander, from its homeport in Mission Bay and went toward Long Beach. Switzer and Gillette had planned to intentionally sink the Commander and submit a claim to their insurance company, according to Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ari D. Fitzwater. The defendants admitted they attempted to sink their boat by destroying plastic PVC piping in the engine room, which caused sea water to flood into the vessel. They also pumped sea water onto the vessel and punctured its bulkhead to let sea water spread faster throughout the boat. Read the full story here 20:08