MIAMI MAN CHARGED FOR FRAUDULENT CERTIFICATION OF CARGO SHIPS
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and Jonathan Sall, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, announced the indictment of defendant Alejandro Gonzalez, 60, of Miami-Dade County, for the fraudulent certification of cargo ships.
The indictment charges Gonzalez with one count of conspiring to make a false official statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; three counts of false official statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(2); and one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendant was a naval engineer, classification surveyor, and the president of a classification society. In that capacity, he surveyed the safety and seaworthiness of merchant vessels on the behalf of foreign countries. If those ships satisfied international standards of safety and seaworthiness, he was further authorized to issue required safety certificates to those ships on behalf of the countries. On the other hand, if those ships proved unfit to proceed to sea without danger to the ship and the crew on board, he was supposed to immediately require necessary repairs.
The charges involve Gonzalez’ survey and certification of two ships: the M/V CALA GALDANA, later rechristened the M/V NEW WAVE, a 68-meter cargo vessel, and the M/V COSETTE, a 92-meter cargo vessel. The indictment alleges that on several occasions, Gonzalez asserted to the U.S. Coast Guard that the M/V CALA GALDANA had visited a drydock for maintenance to the bottom of the ship’s hull when in fact this drydock maintenance never occurred. The indictment further alleges that Gonzalez obstructed the Coast Guard’s port state control examination of the M/V COSETTE by issuing a fraudulent safety certificate to it without proper survey of the ship’s equipment and without ensuring its seaworthiness.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich and Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.