Tag Archives: U.S. District Court

New Bedford Fishing Boat Captain Sentenced

The former captain of a New Bedford fishing boat owned by Carlos Rafael, a/k/a “The Codfather,” was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for interfering with a U.S Coast Guard (USCG) inspection of a fishing boat off the Massachusetts coast. Thomas D. Simpson, 57, of South Portland, Maine, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to two years of probation, with the first four months to be served in home confinement with electronic monitoring, and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine. In August 2018, Simpson pleaded guilty to one count of destruction or removal of property subject to seizure and inspection. Simpson was the captain of the fishing vessel Bulldog,,, >click to read<18:04

Charges, defendants added to lobster wholesaler’s lawsuit alleging embezzlement

A lawsuit by a Saco lobster wholesaler that alleges a partner in the business embezzled more than $1.5 million has been moved to federal court and expanded with new defendants and RICO charges. The original lawsuit was filed in August in York County Superior Court. It was moved this month to U.S. District Court in Portland. The wholesaler, Sea Salt, which also operates a restaurant on Route 1 in Saco, alleges that the man overseeing the company’s shipping operation, Matthew Bellerose of Scarborough, set up a sham customer,,, >click to read<13:03

Smuggling the “Codfather” Profits: Bristol County Sheriff Captain Convicted

A Captain with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was convicted today by a federal jury in connection with helping Carlos Rafael, known as the Codfather in the fishing industry, and the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits of his illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal. Jamie Melo, 46, of North Dartmouth, Mass., was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States and one count of structuring the export of monetary instruments. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled sentencing for Oct. 24, 2018. The jury acquitted the defendant of one count of bulk cash smuggling. >click to read<22:30

Injunction sought against lobster buoy lines

On Friday, Richard Maximus Strahan filed the emergency motion in U.S. District Court for a temporary restraining order to stop either the licensing or deploying of vertical bouy lines, arguing they routinely entangle the endangered whales, causing serious injury and death. The restraining order should be in effect until marine fisheries officials and the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association could show there are no more right whales, a migratory species, in the states coastal waters, according to the motion. >click to read< 08:58

Fishing company to pay $400,000 penalty following 4,200 gallon fuel spill into New Bedford Harbor

In August of 2017, the Challenge, a fishing boat owned by the New Bedford company Quinn Fisheries, sunk while docked on the city’s waterfront, causing a fuel spill that spread over a mile and killed at least five ducks. The Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Justice launched an inquiry, and found that the ship sunk when its captain failed to shut off a valve after illegally dumping bilge into the harbor and leaving the boat for the day, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court >click to read< 22:30

August 16, 2017 – Fishing vessel sinks in New Bedford Harbor >click to read<

D.B. Pleschner: Is court the right place to determine ‘best available science’?

A U.S. District Court judge recently ruled that the federal government’s catch limit for California’s central stock of anchovy — currently 25,000 metric tons — is far too high. But instead of weighing all the facts, the judge ignored them, shunned the established precedent of deference to federal agencies’ scientific determinations and instead endorsed the flawed arguments of the advocacy group Oceana. So what happened? >click to read< 21:55

Maine men sentenced to probation, fines for trafficking baby eels

Two Maine men were sentenced Thursday to serve federal probation and to pay fines for their roles in an interstate baby eel trafficking ring. Michael Squillace, 40, of Woolwich, and John Pinkham, 51, of Bath, each pleaded guilty last summer to trafficking in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegally harvested baby eels, or elvers. They are among 19 men charged in federal court in three different states with illegally catching, selling and transporting more,,, >click to read< 21:00

New York businessman set to be sentenced for dealing in black market eels from Virginia

Tommy Zhou knew what they were doing was illegal, according to court documents. American eel stocks were low as Asian markets rushed to buy more, and strict caps were being imposed on U.S. fishermen. But Zhou told the undercover police officers who came to his New York office in 2013 that selling him black market eels wouldn’t be a problem as long as no one developed a “big mouth.” And, he said, he was willing to spend $200,000 to have them killed if they betrayed him. Zhou, of New York, pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally trafficking more than $150,000 worth of juvenile American eels, also known as “elvers” or “glass eels.” He is set to be sentenced this afternoon in U.S. District Court. click here to read the story 10:59

Fisherman David Goethel: Justices ruled on technicalities, not merits

The rejection by the Supreme Court is the third defeat suffered by Goethel and co-plaintiff South Dartmouth-based Northeast Fishing Sector XIII since they first sued NOAA Fisheries and other federal officials in December 2015 in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire.,,, “The Supreme Court was our last judicial hope to save the centuries-old New England industry,” Goethel said in a statement. Later, in an interview, Goethel let loose against what he said is the “stacked deck” of standing up to regulators, as well as his frustration with the justice system. click here to read the story 20:56

Jury clears fish broker in alleged tuna smuggling scheme

A Marblehead tuna broker has been cleared of federal charges  that he orchestrated a scheme to illegally catch and export bluefin tuna. Robert Kliss and his Lynn-based business North Atlantic Traders were found not guilty of charges that included conspiracy, smuggling and falsifying records, by a U.S. District Court jury on Friday. Kliss, his business and a captain-for-hire, John Cafiero, were indicted in April following a four-year investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and federal prosecutors. The allegations came to the attention of investigators in 2012, after a member of the crew on the famous fishing boat the F/V Hannah Boden came back from a swordfishing trip off the coast of Long Island, New York, and reported to the boat’s manager that Cafiero had also been fishing for bluefin. click here to read the story 21:17

Judge strips $2.8M tournament prize from Fla. fisherman

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a Florida fisherman is not entitled to the $2.8 million in prize money he won in a Maryland fishing tournament last summer. Phillip Heasley and the crew of his Naples, Fla.-based boat, the Kallianassa, put their fishing lines in too early, violating the rules of the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md., the judge ruled. Three New Jersey men – Trenton police sergeant Brian Suschke, Trenton firefighter Rich Kosztyu and Ocean County boat owner Damien Romeo – could land $2.3 million of the money, but the judge’s decision did not yet rule on the awarding of the money. Because the matter is still technically pending, with a decision expected on the money, Suschke declined further comment, except to say the three men are “happy to have cleared one legal hurdle.” click here to read the story 09:49

Trial begins to settle $2.8M fishing tourney prize

It started in the open ocean off Maryland last summer and it’s likely to conclude in a federal courtroom in Baltimore. The battle over $2.8 million in prize money from the White Marlin Open fishing tournament went to trial Monday in U.S. District Court. On the line for three New Jersey men is $2.3 million of the pot.Trenton police officer Brian Suschke, Trenton firefighter Rich Kosztyu and Ocean County boat owner Damien Romeo were ecstatic after winning $767,091 for catching a 236.5-pound tuna at the August competition in Ocean City, Md. Then, the friends and fishing partners found out their catch might actually be worth millions. Click here to read the story 17:44

Two guys who tried to sink their own commercial charter fishing boat get probation

Two men who intentionally tried to sink their commercial fishing boat in an effort to collect insurance money were sentenced to probation Monday. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Anello sentenced Christopher Switzer, 39, and Mark Gillette, 37, to 18 months of probation. Both pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to sink their commercial fishing boat, “The Commander.” The incident occurred on Oct. 11 when the two were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard from the sinking boat in an area about seven miles south of Dana Point. Gillette had reported the boat was taking on water and was in danger of sinking. It did not, however. continue reading the story here 10:45

Fishing Industry Fights N.Y. Offshore Wind Area In Court

Lawyers representing a host of fishing communities, associations and businesses – led by scallop industry trade group the Fisheries Survival Fund – argued in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., yesterday against an offshore wind lease sale off the coast of Long Island, N.Y. A ruling is expected in the coming days, according to a press release from the Fisheries Survival Fund. The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction against the wind farm lease that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) preliminarily awarded to Statoil for $42.5 million at an auction in December. They argued that the site of the project is in the middle of important fishing grounds, particularly for the scallop and squid fisheries. They also claimed that allowing the “unlawful” lease sale to go through would cause “irreparable harm to commercial fishermen.” Read the story here 07:31

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

Judge separates Carlos Rafael trial from sheriff’s deputy Antonio Freitas – Carlos is up first

A federal district court judge on Monday did as some predicted andcarlos rafaell the criminal cases against New Bedford seafood mogul Carlos Rafael and sheriff’s deputy Antonio Freitas. Attorney Dan Cronin, representing Freitas, said Monday afternoon that Judge William Young in U.S. District Court in Boston also moved the start date of the trials to Feb. 6 because of scheduling conflicts. He decided Rafael would go first. Cronin had moved on behalf of Freitas that the cases be separated, but his motion was opposed on a technicality. Prosecutors agreed, however, with Rafael’s attorneys that trying both cases simultaneously would violate Rafael’s rights because of some of the things that Freitas has said in interviews that will actually be used against him and Rafael during the trial. Read the rest of the story here 08:42

Partial transcript of Carlos Rafael’s meeting with undercover IRS agents

carlos rafaelDocuments filed in U.S. District Court in Boston Thursday show seafood mogul Carlos Rafael implicating his whole family in his alleged scheme to smuggle cash to the Azores and turn large catches of protected fish into large amounts of cash by selling them under the table. Rafael is also quoted as boasting that he pressured Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, into giving Deputy Sheriff Antonio Freitas a raise and promotion, and in turn using Freitas to get large amounts of cash around immigration and customs at Logan Airport. The document is an official response to requests by Rafael and Freitas to be tried separately to preserve their individual rights. Read Carlos Rafael’s motion to sever his trial from the trial of Antonio Freitas.  Read the government’s response, which contains Carlos Rafael’s alleged statements to undercover agents about the Antonio Freitas and the Bristol County Sheriff’s Department. The items are contained in a partial transcript of a meeting Rafael had with two men he thought were Russian businessmen but who were actually IRS agents operating under cover to learn how Rafael did business. Read the story here 08:55

Fairhaven man sentenced for making hoax distress calls to U.S. Coast Guard

department-of-justice-logoA Fairhaven man was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with sending three false distress messages to the U.S. Coast Guard over the radio. Roger Martin, 47, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to one year of probation and ordered to pay $7,182 in restitution to the U.S. Coast Guard. In August 2016, Martin pleaded guilty to three counts of sending false distress messages to the U.S. Coast Guard and one count of identity fraud. Martin, in three separate calls, claimed that he was on a boat in the Cape Cod Canal that was sinking. During the calls he impersonated a resident of Fairhaven, providing a name, street address and, on one occasion, date of birth. Martin had obtained the date of birth through the improper use of a law enforcement database through his former employment as a Bristol Country Sheriff’s dispatcher. In response to the calls, the U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement expended resources ascertaining that there was no true emergency and attempting to track down the hoax caller. Link 12:57

Retired Key West fisherman gets year for defrauding BP oil spill program

judgementA retired Key West commercial fisherman who swindled $30,000 from the BP relief program set up after the 2010 oil spill will spend one year and one day in prison for fraud. Raul Rioseco, 73, was sentenced Tuesday at in Key West by Judge Jose Martinez, after taking a plea deal last month in which he admitted to one count of mail fraud. Rioseco, who has been retired since about 2004, was also ordered by the court to make reimbursement of $144,606. But federal prosecutors say he and his daughter combined raided nearly $500,000 from BP for purported income losses in Key West, which didn’t get a drop of oil from the April 20, 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.  His daughter, Caridad Rioseco Alejandrez, awaits sentencing July 11 before Martinez in Key West, after prosecutors say she filed some 600 claims after the BP oil spill. Read the rest here 10:34

Prosecutors get extension of deadline to indict New Bedford fishing magnate Carlos Rafael

carlos rafaelProsecutors have received an extension of the deadline to indict local fishing magnate Carlos Rafael, a U.S. District Court spokesperson confirmed Friday. The length of the deadline’s extension was not disclosed. Rafael, 63, was arrested Feb. 26 on charges of conspiracy and submitting falsified records to the government, after federal authorities raided the building on New Bedford’s waterfront. He was released March 2 on a $1 million bond, with conditions including a monitoring bracelet and nightly curfew at his Dartmouth home. Read the story here 07:29

Stonington Maine man pleads guilty to setting fire to lobster boat

judgementA local man has pleaded guilty in federal court to setting fire to another man’s lobster boat, according to a federal prosecutor. Jeremy Eaton, 39, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for setting the fire, which destroyed the fishing boat Heritage on the night of April 16, 2014, according to documents on file in the publicly accessible online document database for U.S. District Court in Bangor. In a prepared statement released late Friday, the U.S attorney’s office for Maine said that on the night of the fire, Eaton walked to the harbor in Stonington, removed gasoline cans from a skiff tied to a dock and then used a small boat to ferry himself and the gas cans to a fiberglass lobster boat moored in the harbor. Read the rest here 08:15

Fishermen await decision about at-sea monitoring lawsuit

judgementCONCORD, N.H. (AP) — East Coast fishermen are awaiting a judge’s decision about their contention that the federal government’s plan to hand them the cost of at-sea monitoring is illegal. The fishermen’s challenge was the subject of a hearing at U.S. District Court in Concord on Thursday. The judge didn’t issue an order from the bench, so a decision is expected in the future. Link 17:39

Lawyer requests former co-op manager serve 45 days for lobster scheme

The recommendation for a sentence for 53-year-old Robert Thompson of St. George was filed Friday by attorney Walter McKee. The U.S. attorney’s office has until Tuesday to file its recommended sentence. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a prison term of 41 to 51 months. Thompson could also be fined up to $250,000. Read the rest here 11:53

The Green Goon Squad Strikes AGAIN! – NOAA sued again, this time by environmentalists

sct logoNEW BEDFORD — For the second time this week, NOAA has been sued — this time twice — by two environmental groups “Managers should be acting conservatively to steward the remaining fish and the places they have retreated to, not making them more available to the fishing fleet. “Opening up protected areas will not magically create new fish.”  Seafood consultant James Kendall of New Bedford, a former member of the council, said Friday, “I think they’re full of it.”  (oh yes they are, Jim, lawsuits based on random notions!) continued

Eco-Lawsuit Advances against Cape Wind Risk to Right Whale and other Threatened and Endangered Species Litigated

NOTE. Links will be added as they become available.  http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/x493268917/Suit-claims-Cape-Wind-violates-endangered-species-law

Hyannis, Mass.  (October 10, 2012) – Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility  (PEER), the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound and other conservation groups  today filed a brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia  detailing Cape Wind’s numerous violations of federal protections for threatened  and endangered species – including the imperiled North Atlantic right whale, one  of the rarest mammals in the world. This suit charges the project violates  three key federal laws – the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty  Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

Other plaintiffs include the Cetacean  Society International, Lower Laguna Madre Foundation, Californians for Renewable  Energy, and Three Bays Preservation. This is one of five federal lawsuits facing  Cape Wind, a massive industrial project proposed to cover 25 square miles of  Nantucket Sound with an array of 130 massive turbines – each stretching taller  than the Statue of Liberty.

Today’s brief explains how the mega-project  poses serious risks to the right whale, four species of federally-protected sea  turtles and several species of migratory birds. It also criticizes the lack of oversight  and analysis of the impact of Cape Wind on this critical  habitat.