News and Press Releases


May 17, 2011

DERECK E. PONAMSKY, age 36, from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge Jay Zainey to five years probation with the special condition of 18 months home-detention, 100 hours of community service, and a fine of $6,000, for use of an altered Coast Guard license, announced U. S. Attorney Jim Letten.

PONAMSKY previously pled guilty on February 24, 2011 to presenting a forged U.S. Coast Guard license for employment as a First Class Pilot knowing that the Coast Guard license he presented had been altered to falsely include a First Class Pilot’s Endorsement and that he had never received this endorsement. PONAMSKY further admitted that he was issued a Merchant Mariner’s License by the United States Coast Guard, License No. 11199280, on June 16, 2005, authorizing him to serve as a Master of Steam or Motor Vessels of not more than 100 gross tons, which is the type of license issued to operate a tugboat. At no time was the defendant issued a First Class Pilot’s Endorsement. However, he presented to the New Orleans-Baton Rouge Steamship Pilots Association (NOBRA) located in Jefferson, Louisiana, a license which contained a First Class Pilot Endorsement. He worked as a NOBRA pilot from June 2005 until approximately February 2, 2008. NOBRA was unaware that the defendant did not have the proper licensure while employed by NOBRA.

"The Coast Guard is dedicated to the protection of America's waterways and those who sail upon them. One of the fundamental tenets of safe navigation is having a properly licensed mariner responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel. When this principle is broken, the lives of all mariners and the marine environment are at risk. I am grateful to the Department of Justice for their hard work on this case and appreciate the synergy between our two agencies," said Rear Admiral Mary E. Landry, Eighth District Coast Guard Commander.

This case was investigated criminally by the U. S. Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Services and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy Manning Taylor.





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