New agreement sees feds keeping just two Codfather vessels
The U.S. federal government will retain only two of the four vessels it seized from New Bedford’s Carlos “Codfather” Rafael over a year ago, according to recent court documents obtained by local newspaper South Coast Today.
U.S. District Court Judge William Young approved the seizure of the four Rafael vessels and their 34 associated permits on 11 October, 2017. The vessels in question included: Bull Dog, valued at USD 661,350 (EUR 558,650), with eight associated permits; Olivia & Rafaela, valued at USD 458,550 (EUR 387,350), with 11 associated permits; Lady Patricia, valued at USD 338,800 (EUR 286,190), with four associated permits; and Southern Crusader II, valued at 800,150 (EUR 676,000), with 11 associated permits.
The recent settlement agreement reached between the government and Rafael on Friday, 23 November, mandates that only Lady Patricia and Olivia & Rafaela, along with both vessels’ associated permits, be forfeited to the United States. A fine of USD 306,490 (EUR 270,597) must also be paid to the United States, according to the parameters of the agreement. A final forfeiture notice for the two boats was issued by Judge Young on Monday, 26 November.
Bull Dog, meanwhile, will be released to B & D Fishing Corp. and Rafael’s wife, Conceicao, and Southern Crusader II will be released to R and C fishing Corp., Joao Camarao, and Conceicao Rafael – all of whom held partial ownership with Carlos Rafael. Rafael – who is currently serving out a 46-month prison sentence for his role in falsifying fishing quota, tax evasion, and bulk cash smuggling – is not permitted to manage or operate the Bull Dog or Southern Crusader II in any way, the agreement states, nor is he allowed to benefit financially from either vessel.
Conceicao Rafael’s attorney Armand Fernandes Jr. said his client is eager for life to move forward and for affected fishermen to be able to return to work as a result of the settlement agreement.
“My client and her entire family are anxious to put this case behind them,” Fernandes Jr. told South Coast Today. “She settled this matter with a hope and expectation that the many fishermen out of work will get back at sea and the ancillary businesses adversely impacted will be up and running at full throttle. This city and its historic port will continue to be the richest and best fishing port in this great country.”
Any pending or future action taken against Rafael by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) is not impacted by the latest agreement, according to the court documents.
The agency issued a 51-page superseding charging document in September related to its civil administrative case against Rafael, initiated in January 2018. The noncriminal document called for the revocation of 17 operator permits held by Rafael’s captains and increased the civil penalties associated with the case from just under USD 1 million (USD 983,528, EUR 834,673) to more than USD 3 million (USD 3.3 million, EUR 2.79 million). The issuance also upped the number of alleged fishing law violations associated with Rafael – ranging from misreporting species to gear, scallop, and observer violations – to 88, according to The Standard Times.
Image by Flickr user Neal Wellons