News and Press Releases

Two former members of ship’s crew both sentenced to 30 months in prison for conspiring to sink boat for payment

April 3, 2012


CAMDEN, N.J. – Two former crew members of the fishing boat Alexander II who admitted to participating in a plot to sink the boat off the coast of Cape May in August 2009 in exchange for payment were sentenced to prison today, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Erik James, 40, of Goshen, N.J., who previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb to a superseding Information charging him with conspiracy to destroy the Alexander II on the high seas, was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Christopher Martin, 40, of Wildwood, N.J., who previously pleaded guilty before Judge Bumb to a superseding Information charging him with the conspiracy, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Judge Bumb imposed both sentences today in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The defendants engaged in a scheme to sink the Alexander II so that boat’s owner, Scott Tran, 38, of Cherry Hill, N.J., could collect $400,000 on an insurance policy with State National Insurance Co. In July 2009, Tran hired a captain for the ship, whom Tran and his right-hand man, Manh Nguyen, 58, of Philadelphia, solicited to sink the boat in return for payment. The captain recruited a crew, including James and Martin, to help him sink the boat.

On August 2, 2009, the Alexander II left Cape May, N.J., with little fuel, ice, food, and other supplies for a purported lengthy fishing trip. The ship’s log was falsified to read that more than 50 fish, weighing a total of approximately 3,000 pounds, had been caught. Once the Alexander II reached a point approximately 86 miles southeast of Cape May, the captain and his crew worked together in an unsuccessful attempt to sink it

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Bumb sentenced both defendants to three years of supervised release and ordered them to pay restitution of $83,000 to the U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of FBI, Atlantic City Resident Agency, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward; and investigators with the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Robert L. Taylor, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencings. He also thanked the Philadelphia and Cape May office of the U.S. Coast Guard, Investigative Division, for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Wiener of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.


Defense counsel:
James: Anne C. Singer Esq., Haddonfield, N.J.
Martin: Stanley O. King Esq., Woodbury, N.J.

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