“Codfather” accomplice convicted of money smuggling
Bristol County sheriff’s deputy Antonio Freitas was found guilty on Wednesday, 19 July, of one count of bulk cash smuggling and one count of structuring the export of U.S. currency, tied to his connection with New Bedford, Massachusetts fishing magnate Carlos Rafael’s quota and tax evasion scheme.
A jury in U.S. District Court in Boston convicted Freitas, a longtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement task-force officer. His sentencing is tentatively scheduled for 12 October. As it stands, Freitas could be sentenced to as many as five years in prison, three years of supervised release and have to pay a fine of up to USD 250,000 (EUR 214,804).
“Freitas smuggled USD 17,500 (EUR 15,037) through airport security and later deposited the money in a Portuguese bank account belonging to Carlos Rafael, the owner of Carlos Seafood, Inc.,” according to a statement from federal prosecutors acquired by The Boston Herald. “Rafael owned 32 fishing vessels and 44 permits, which amounted to one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the United States.”
For his part, Rafael is said to have falsified numerous records to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about the amounts and types of fish caught by his fleet, acquiring thousands in profits in the process from overfishing, which was deposited into a Portuguese bank account. The owner of Carlos Seafood formally pleaded guilty to 28 charges related to falsifying fish quota, tax evasion and conspiracy at the end of March.
Originally, Rafael’s sentencing was scheduled for 28 July, but a delay was filed by the mogul’s lawyer to allow for “additional time to resolve a critical component” in the resolution of the case, primarily, “the possibility of a global settlement, which may involve Mr. Rafael exiting the commercial fishing business,” according to the request documents obtained by SouthCoast Today.
Rafael is believed to possess 32 vessels and 44 permits, said the U.S. Attorney, with 13 permits up for potential forfeiture as a condition of the plea agreement in place. However, the delay of sentencing suggests that Rafael may move to sell his entire fleet, noted SouthCoast Today.
″The parties need additional time to resolve this issue – the result of which may be a critical component of the defendant’s argument to the court at sentencing and may obviate the need for briefing and hearing on the forfeiture issues left open in the plea agreement,” the motion stated.
Judge William G. Young presided over Freitas’ trial and Rafael’s plea hearing.