Tag Archives: Carlos Rafael

Unconstitutional? Carlos Rafael argues against vessel forfeiture, poses new buyer for fleet

New Bedford, Massachusetts-based fishing magnate Carlos “Codfather” Rafael has challenged the government’s proposal to seize his fleet of 13 groundfish vessels, arguing that the act is unconstitutional, according to court documents filed by his legal team. Forfeiting the vessels and their corresponding permits, which are allegedly worth more than USD 30 million (EUR 25 million), would be a violation of the excessive fines clause of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Rafael’s lawyers said in court documents submitted for review to U.S. District Court judge William Young in Boston. click here to read the story 15:22

Local buyer for Carlos Rafael’s fishing permits, court documents say – Two prominent businesses in New Bedford possess the means to acquire the permits based on financial means and ability to operate a fleet of that size: Whaling City Seafood Display Auction and Eastern Fisheries. Neither returned requests for comment. click here to read the story 9/21, 16:09

Hang him! Hang him high!

OK, OK, I get it! Carlos Rafael, aka, “The Codfather,” has done some pretty reprehensible things while amassing what seemingly is the largest percentage of ownership of the US multispecies groundfish fleet. I am not going to try to defend his actions, or his reasoning, but I would like to point out that there is plenty of guilt to go around and some people should not be so quick to point their finger at him alone. What is it that they say about casting the first stone? Apparently, among his sins is his aforementioned ownership of the largest fleet of multi-species groundfish vessels, as well as some scallop vessels. While this may be true, let us ponder what enabled, abetted, and allowed him to gain such an advantage over everyone else. At this point, he wasn’t breaking the law, he was only taking advantage of it, and of those who most fervently wanted it! click here to read the op-ed 09:27

Conservation Law Foundation submits victim impact statement in Carlos Rafael case

Within the past 10 days, the Conservation Law Foundation sent three letters to various individuals involved — either directly or indirectly — with the Carlos Rafael case. The foundation doesn’t represent any party directly, but its goal is to “use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy,” according to its website. CLF sees Rafael’s guilty plea in March to illegal fishing as infringing on its principles. click here to read the story 21:18

Bristol County Sheriff’s Dept. captain charged with smuggling in Rafael case

A captain with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was arrested and charged late Wednesday in connection with helping Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits of his illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. James Melo, 45, of Dartmouth, was charged with one count each of bulk cash smuggling, structuring and conspiracy. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond following his appearance in federal court in Boston late this afternoon, authorities said in a news release. click here to read the story 10:37

Carlos Rafael’s wife petitions for right to claim vessels

Two parties, including Carlos Rafael’s wife, filed petitions in district court claiming they possess rights to the property listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture, according to court documents submitted Monday. Conceicao Rafael, who is married to Carlos Rafael, laid out in 45 pages her “rights to certain property” listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture. In seven more pages, Joao Camara laid out his argument to the rights to Southern Crusader II, one of the 13 vessels listed in the preliminary order of forfeiture. Camara claims ownership through a company named R and C Fishing Corp. Both Conceicao and Camara, through their attorneys, argued the assets aren’t subject to forfeiture because “at the time of any illegal act” by the defendant neither was “privy to any illegal act.” click here to read the story 07:57

Rep. William Straus request reveals NOAA has yet to penalize Rafael

Through a public records request, Rep. William Straus said he discovered that NOAA hasn’t disciplined Carlos Rafael since the indictment has been released. That included an incident on Aug. 5, 2016, which occurred after the indictment, where public records also show that the Coast Guard cited the Lady Patricia, a Rafael vessel listed in the indictment, for “fishing without proper VMS designation.” NOAA defines its Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) as a system supporting law enforcement initiatives and preventing violations of laws and regulations. It is used as evidence in the prosecution of environmental laws and regulations including regional fishing quotas, the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. click here to read the story 21:40

Mass delegation supports putting Carlos Rafael’s forfeiture toward electronic monitoring

John Bullard wants to arm fishing vessels with a smartphone — figuratively speaking. “Nobody has rotary phones anymore, we just assume smartphones are the way we communicate and all the benefits of smartphones we’ve come to expect as normal,” Bullard said. ”(Electronic monitoring) is what we’re going to transition to, but it’s going to take time.” NOAA’s Northeast Regional director said he believes current methods can lead to inaccurate science. Last week, NOAA conducted a fishing stock assessment meeting in New Bedford where similar concerns of bad science emerged. The root of the concern was data from false reports. Electronic monitoring, specifically cameras on vessels, would provide accurate information. click here to read the story 21:39

Carlos Rafael files a motion of opposition to forfeiture

Carlos Rafael filed a court motion Monday opposing the government’s motion for preliminary order of forfeiture. The New Bedford fishing heavyweight made the request in light of “ongoing discussions” regarding the vessels and permits associated with the guilty plea he made four and half months ago. Rafael pleaded guilty to falsifying labels and fish identification, cash smuggling and tax evasion on March 30. In the plea agreement, Rafael admitted the vessels listed in the indictment were subject to forfeiture. The agreement reserved Rafael the right to challenge the forfeitures. Rafael took advantage of that right,,, click here to read the story 20:49

Despite guilty plea, ‘Codfather’ continues to fish

New England fishermen are wondering how the fishing fleet owned by New Bedford fishing mogul Carlos Rafael continues to fish nearly five months after he pleaded guilty on March 30 in federal district court in Boston to 28 offenses, including conspiracy, false labeling of fish, bulk cash smuggling, tax evasion and falsifying federal records. Those vessels include many Rafael agreed to forfeit in his plea deal for their role in his scheme to sell fish he didn’t have enough quota to catch, under the name of species for which he had enough quota. The fishing year starts May 1 and Rafael won’t be sentenced until Sep. 25 and 26. Many are angry that Rafael’s fleet has been allowed to operate through the summer months when fishermen traditionally catch most of their fish. click here to read the story 09:51

What’s next for the ‘Codfather’?

The “Codfather” quashed any hopes for high courtroom drama when he pleaded guilty in March to falsifying fish quotas, false labeling of fish species, conspiracy and tax evasion, 28 counts in all. The real action is behind the scenes, as federal and defense attorneys wrestle over the fate of New Bedford fishing mogul Carlos Rafael’s fishing empire, said to be one of the largest groundfish fleets in the nation. It’s something Cape fishermen, and fishermen all over New England, are debating and watching closely. click here to read the story 08:36

Carlos “The Codfather” Rafael sentencing delayed

The New Bedford fishing mogul known as “The Codfather” has been granted a new two-month delay prior to his sentencing on federal charges of conspiracy, falsifying fish quotas, and tax evasion. Carlos Rafael, 65, was slated to face sentencing Friday, and could face up to 76 months in prison on the three charges through plea agreement reached with the U.S. attorney’s office March 30. Federal prosecutors have recommended a prison term of 46 months and an extended time after that of supervised release, but U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young is not bound to abide by that recommendation. All of those terms are far less than the 20 years he could have faced under an original 27-count indictment. Young, however, granted a motion on July 11 that had been filed by Rafael’s attorney, William H. Kettlewell, asking for more time to resolve what Kettlewell called “a critical component of the overall resolution of this case.” Young and the U.S. attorney’s office agreed to set a new sentencing date for Sept. 25 at 2 p.m., according to spokeswoman Liz McCarthy. click here to read the story 16:50

Deputy sheriff convicted of ‘Codfather’ cash smuggling

A former Bay State sheriff’s deputy has been convicted in a cash-smuggling scheme connected to a New Bedford fishing mogul known as “The Codfather” during which he took thousands in profits from overfishing and deposited them into a Portuguese bank. Antonio Freitas, 47, of Taunton, a Bristol County sheriff’s deputy and a longtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement task-force officer, was convicted yesterday by a jury in U.S. District Court in Boston of one count of bulk cash smuggling and one count of structuring the export of U.S. currency. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 12 click here to read the story 08:07

Court documents suggest Carlos Rafael may sell all permits

Documents filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday suggest that Carlos Rafael’s time as the New Bedford’s “codfather” may be coming to an end. As part of a motion requesting a sentencing delay, Rafael’s attorney sought “additional time to resolve a critical component” in the case, specifically, “the possibility of a global settlement, which may involve Mr. Rafael exiting the commercial fishing business.”The request suggests not only the 13 permits subject to forfeiture, but all of Rafael’s fishing permits may wind up with someone else before the sentencing. click here to read the story 21:23

Jockeying to control Rafael’s fishing rights ramps up

John Bullard can’t escape Carlos Rafael. People stop the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA in the hallway daily trying to pry any information they can about 13 Rafael fishing permits that may be surrendered as part of a plea agreement the New Bedford fishing tycoon agreed to at the end of March. “People come up to talk to me every day on this case. It’s of intense interest,” Bullard said. “I’m looking forward to a day when nobody talks to me about this case.” Sentencing for Rafael is scheduled for July 28. The date has already been delayed once, but it’s likely when the fate of the permits will be decided. The date hasn’t prevented politicians and organizations from already jockeying for position to acquire the permits up for forfeiture after Rafael pleaded guilty to 28 counts including falsifying fishing quotas, false labeling, conspiracy and tax evasion. click here to read the story 07:43

Maine congressional delegation asks forfeited groundfish permits be redistributed through Northeast

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin sent a letter Monday to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking that the 13 groundfish permits forfeited by Carlos Rafael — a New Bedford fisherman who has pleaded guilty to 28 federal counts of tax evasion, falsifying fishing quotas and conspiracy — be redistributed to fishermen throughout the Northeast, not only New Bedford. In their letter, the Maine congressional delegation said that groundfish permits embody a shared resource and, as such, should be returned to groundfish fishermen in “a fair and uniform manner.” click here to read the story 08:53

Opinion: Rafael’s assets could fund observer program

Any discussion of fishery management nowadays — official and casual alike — is likely to include musings on what should happen to the assets forfeited by Carlos Rafael as punishment for his recent crimes. Mr. Rafael pleaded guilty to charges related to his falsifying landing records and laundering cash, and is scheduled to be sentenced in late July. The courts are working to untangle the IRS and fisheries crimes, dealing with them at one time. A careful distinction between tax penalties and fishing penalties must be made.  The penalties for the tax crimes will be arrived at through IRS rules and laws. The penalties for fisheries crimes are stipulated in NOAA regulations. They provide great latitude in application, from a slap on the wrist to a permanent end of fishing for Carlos Seafood. The defense is making an argument that Mr. Rafael’s influence on the fishery is so important — due to his size — that economic harm to others would be too great if he were to be sanctioned too severely. click here to read the op-ed 08:42

Labor Council latest to make plea for Carlos Rafael permits to remain in New Bedford

The line of organizations with their eyes focused on the future of Carlos Rafael’s fishing permits continued to grow Friday. The Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council addressed a letter to John K. Bullard, NOAA’s regional director from Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, as well as U.S. Attorney William Weinreb that urged the two men “to allocate the fishing permits now controlled by Carlos Rafael to the New Bedford area.” We sent a letter basically because of the fishing industry in New Bedford,” Cynthia Rodrigues, president of the council said. “(The permits landing elsewhere) will hurt the fishing in New Bedford.” Bullard said he couldn’t comment on matters under litigation but saw no issues with parties announcing their opinions on the matter. click here to read the story 16:56

Letter: ‘Codfather’ permits should be redistributed

To the editor: Carlos Rafael’s environmental crime spree, spanning two decades, will finally come to an end (”’Codfather’ faces $109K fine, loss of 13 vessels,” April 3). Rafael pled guilty to federal charges of falsifying fish catch reports, conspiracy and tax evasion. He will serve at least four years in jail and will forfeit millions of dollars in fishing assets.  For law-abiding fishermen, this day is long overdue. While other fishermen were complying with steep reductions in fishing quotas, Rafael decided those rules didn’t apply to him. click here to read the letter 09:22

What’s next for Carlos Rafael’s fishing permits?

New Bedford – Almost a week ago, City Council members asked for their names to be attached to a late file agenda pertaining to Carlos Rafael’s groundfish permits. Behind Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro, Council President Joseph Lopes and Ward 5 Councilor Kerry Winterson, the council requested “that the Committee on Internal Affairs meet with Attorney General Maura Healey and NOAA to discuss how current owners and mariners operating in New Bedford have the first right of refusal to acquire licenses to be auctioned as result of the plea agreement in the case of The United States vs. Carlos Rafael… The written motion was a bit premature. Following Thursday’s council meeting, Rebeiro acknowledged the measure was “to get ahead of the ball” in terms of where the permits may land. So what’s next? click here to read the story 19:11

Did catch shares enable the Codfather’s fishing fraud?

Carlos Rafael’s guilty plea late last month of falsifying fish quotas, conspiracy and tax evasion has prompted renewed criticism of one of the most contentious parts of the New England groundfish fishery’s management system: catch shares.Rafael, who dubbed himself “The Codfather,” owned one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in the United States, and for some community fishermen in New England, his case represents consolidation run amok. Consolidating fishing permits, they say, also centralizes power, making fraud more likely. But for environmentalists who support catch shares as a way to reduce overfishing, consolidation isn’t inevitable. They say Rafael’s case highlights the need for better monitoring and fraud protections to prevent the sort of cheating that can plague any fishery management system. click here to read the rest 19:09

New Bedford among crowd staking claim to Carlos Rafael’s permits

Before Carlos Rafael uttered the word “guilty” last month, the judge made the New Bedford fishing mogul aware of the possibility of forfeiting his assets, which means permits, too. About two months remain before Rafael’s sentencing date, but cities and states have started to acknowledge that possibility as well. “The goal for me is to get ahead of the ball to make partnerships with people that have the same interests, which is keeping the licenses local,” Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro said. John Pappalardo and Maggie Raymond, the executive director of Associated Fisheries of Maine, expect the status of Rafael’s permits to be decided on the sentencing date. Still, Raymond is already lobbying for any forfeited permit to go to Maine. click here to read the story 08:16

Loss of ‘Codfather’ permits could hurt New Bedford

By late morning just before Easter weekend, three fishing vessels lined up at the docks to unload their catch, and they all belonged to one man — the local mogul known as the “Codfather,” Carlos Rafael. “It’s a good haul,” a passing auction worker at the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction said under her breath, as crew members, some still in their orange waterproof bibs, unloaded the ice-packed fish. But now, Rafael’s recent conviction on federal charges that he cheated fishing regulations to boost his profits is putting his many vessels and permits up for grabs — potentially distributing them to ports along the New England coast. That would deliver an economic blow to New Bedford and the people who depend on the business created by Rafael’s fleet. If his permits are seized as expected, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the regulatory agency known as NOAA, could reissue the permits to fishermen elsewhere in the region. “There are a lot more innocent people who could get punished by this,” said Jim Kendall, a former fisherman who runs New Bedford Seafood Consulting. click here to read the story 09:00

How Did ‘The Codfather’ Rise? Some Say Fishing Rules Pull Up Big Fishermen

While Carlos Rafael waits to hear his fate, some wonder whether there could be another “Codfather.” Critics say fishing industry regulations pave the way for bigger and more corrupt fishing enterprises. But, some, like Janice Plante of the New England Fisheries Managment Council, disagree with those who blame the regulatory system, insisting the rules don’t “make somebody a criminal.” Joining Morning Edition is Niaz Dorry, of the Gloucester-based Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance. She explains why she believes Rafael’s success is connected to fishing industry rules. click here to listen to the audio report 08:32

Carlos Rafael’s guilty plea in federal court draws mixed reactions

There was a mixture of emotions and reactions among members of the local fishing industry over the guilty plea Carlos that “The Codfather” Rafael entered in Federal Court Thursday. Some expressed a certain amount of sympathy for Rafael in the highly regulated business. Some didn’t. This doesn’t come as a surprise,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. Ever since Carlos’ arrest became public it was clear the government had him dead to rights.” “The more important question is what will happen to the permits. That determination has been left up to NOAA. Jim Kendall, president of New Bedford Seafood Consulting, had the same concern about the permits. He noted that other boat owners have been stripped of their permits. “But I am not sure that it means anything for us,” he said. Read the story here 18:18

Fishing mogul Carlos Rafael pleads guilty, will be sentenced in June

Carlos Rafael pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying fish quotas, tax evasion and conspiracy in U.S. District Court in Boston Thursday. The U.S. attorney recommended 46 months of prison time for the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for June 27. Rafael’s attorney William Kettlewell declined comment. He said his office would send out a statement. An updated indictment released two weeks ago included the charge of tax evasion. It stated from November 2014 to about October of 2015, Rafael failed to pay taxes in the sum of $108,929. It also included two new paragraphs regarding the general allegations toward Rafael. Read the rest here 17:02

An in-depth article – Owner of Carlos Seafood pleads guilt to forging records, smuggling profits  Click here to read the article 17:36

For Immediate Release – Statement by Carlos Rafael

“There have been a number of stories written about this case and about me.  Some of the things that have been written are true, some are not.  Here is the truth.  Today I pled guilty to the charges facing me.  I am not proud of the things I did that brought me here, but admitting them is the right thing to do, and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions.
I started in this industry cutting fish when I was 16 years old, and it has been an honor to work with the people of the Port of New Bedford.  Looking back, I’m most proud of the hundreds of jobs our businesses created, and the opportunities they created for families.  Today, I have a single goal.  To protect our employees and all of the people and businesses who rely on our companies from the consequences of my actions.  I will do everything I can to make sure that the Port of New Bedford remains America’s leading fishing port.” Press release from Collara LLP  14:47

From maple syrup fraudsters to The Codfather – 5 of the Worst Criminals in Food History!

Like precious gem heists and exotic animal snatching, food crimes come with their fair share of high drama. The details of one seafood kingpin’s story are enough for an episode of The Sopranos: Federal agents disguised themselves as Russians and busted fisherman Carlos Rafael for a laundry list of crimes, including mislabeling his catch and selling thousands of pounds of fish under-the-table to a dealer in New York City. For our latest episode of Bite, our food politics podcast, we talked to journalist Ben Goldfarb about his recent Mother Jones feature about this fish tycoon, known as “The Codfather.” The interview with Goldfarb begins at 1:24. Listen to the audio, and read the story here 12:30

How the illegal pursuits of a fishing empire could affect an entire industry already struggling under intense regulation.

He’s been dubbed the Codfather. Carlos Rafael, owner of a fishing empire that is the largest in the Northeast if not the country, is accused of exploiting federal fishery regulations to get ahead and misreporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish. His alleged crimes expose the pitfalls of a system meant to help fishermen and their catch coexist. It’s a tale of fraud, smuggling and organized crime better suited to the big screen than the docks of New Bedford.,, Besides tax evasion and fraud, the problem with Rafael’s plan is that it undermined the efforts of federal authorities to manage healthy fisheries and avoid over fishing.  Fishermen from Rhode Island to Maine have had their catches limited by federal quotas since 2009 under a program regulators say promotes sustainable fishing, but for many fishermen it’s meant hanging up their hooks. During the first year of the catch-share program, there were 440 commercial boats. That number dwindled to just 120 by 2013. Read the story here 09:16

‘Codfather’ fraud plea hearing pushed back to end of the month

The hearing where a New Bedford fishing magnate is expected to plead guilty to federal fraud charges has been pushed back. The U.S. Attorney’s Office had originally announced the hearing for Carlos Rafael would be held on March 16, but Wednesday, the day before that hearing would have been, they announced it was rescheduled for March 30 at 2:30 p.m. Rafael is accused of lying to federal authorities for years about the quantity and species of fish his boats caught in order to evade federal fishing quotas — claiming it was all haddock, instead of other species that have stricter quotas. Video link 12:34

The Deliciously Fishy Case of the “Codfather”

The fake Russians met the Codfather on June 3, 2015, at an inconspicuous warehouse on South Front Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The Codfather’s lair is a green and white building with a peaked roof, fishing gear strewn across a fenced-in backyard, and the words “Carlos Seafood” stamped above the door. The distant gray line of the Atlantic Ocean is visible behind a towering garbage heap. In the 19th century, New Bedford’s sons voyaged aboard triple-masted ships in pursuit of sperm whales; now they chase cod, haddock, and scallops. Every year, more than $350 million worth of seafood passes through this waterfront, a significant slice of which is controlled by the Codfather, the most powerful fisherman in America’s most valuable seafood port. Big Read! continue reading the story here 07:56