BOSTON - A Rhode Island man, the captain of a commercial fishing vessel, pleaded guilty today in federal court to assaulting two women on board his ship near the waters of New Bedford.
Richard Wetherell, 61, Jamestown, R.I., pleaded guilty today before Chief Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein to charges of physical assault, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with the duties of two federal at-sea monitors. Sentencing is scheduled for April 20, 2012. Wetherell faces up to six month in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release, and a fine of $100,000 on each of the counts.
Had the case proceeded to trial, the evidence would have shown that during the course of two separate commercial fishing trips in July 2010, Wetherell, the captain of the vessel, physically assaulted the respective at-sea monitor whose responsibilities included collecting data from commercial vessels while out at sea. The defendant’s actions impeded, intimidated or interfered with each of the monitors’ ability to perform her job. There was a different at-sea monitor on each trip and each was the only female on board the boat for her respective trip.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Timothy Donovan, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for Law Enforcement, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Sullivan of Ortiz’s Major Crime’s Unit.