The Codfather Gets Nearly 4 Years For Evading Fishing Quotas

BOSTON (AP) — A U.S. fishing magnate known as The Codfather who pleaded guilty to evading fishing quotas and smuggling money to Portugal has been sentenced in Boston to nearly four years in prison.

Carlos Rafael owns one of the nation’s largest commercial fishing operations, with a fleet of more than 30 vessels, 44 commercial fishing permits and the Carlos Seafood business in New Bedford.

Rafael was sentenced Monday to 46 months behind bars and three years of supervised release, during which time he is banned from working in the fishing industry. The Court also ordered Rafael to pay a fine of $200,000 and restitution to the U.S. Treasury of $108,929.  Rafael may also be subject to forfeiture of a portion of his fishing fleet, but the Court held that issue for further consideration.

In March 2017, Rafael pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit offenses against the United States, 23 counts of false labeling and fish identification, two counts of falsifying federal records, one count of bulk cash smuggling, and one count of tax evasion.

“Mr. Rafael profited at the expense of other hard-working commercial fishermen by falsifying records so he could keep fishing while they were sidelined,” said Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb.  “The Court accurately described Mr. Rafael’s actions as systematic corruption.  He will now face the consequences of violating federal laws designed to sustain the New England fishery.”

Federal authorities say Rafael falsely claimed his vessels caught haddock or pollock when they had actually caught other species subject to stricter quotas. He then sold the fish for cash, some of which was smuggled overseas.

“The significant sentence imposed by the Court today reflects the profound impact of Mr. Rafael’s long-running criminal scheme,” said Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston.  “As a fishing industry leader, Mr. Rafael’s false catch reports and tax evasion scheme gave him an unfair advantage, to the detriment of honest fishermen and our precious ocean resources.  IRS-CI is proud of this remarkable investigative team, and the important role our undercover agents played in bringing “the Codfather” to justice.”

Prosecutors asked for more than four years in prison. Rafael’s attorneys sought two years of probation.

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