Owner of Commercial Fishing Business and Local Sherrif’s Deputy Indicted in Scheme to Falsify Fishing Records
BOSTON – The owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the United States and a Bristol County Sheriff’s Deputy were charged in connection with a long-running scheme involving submitting falsified records to the federal government to evade federal fishing quotas and then smuggling the profits to Portugal. The federal indictment charging the two men was unsealed today after the arrest of the Sheriff’s Deputy.
Carlos Rafael, 64, of Dartmouth, the owner of Carlos Seafood, Inc., was indicted on one count of conspiring to falsify reports submitted to the federal government, 25 counts of submitting falsified records and one count of bulk cash smuggling. Rafael was previously arrested on a criminal complaint filed in February 2016.
Antonio Freitas, 46, of Taunton, a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, was indicted on one count of bulk cash smuggling and one count of structuring the export of U.S. currency. Freitas was arrested this morning and will appear today in U.S. District Court in Worcester. The charges arose out of an undercover investigation in which federal agents posed as organized crime figures interested in buying Carlos Seaford. According to the indictment, from 2012 to January 2016, Rafael routinely lied to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about the quantity and species of fish his boats caught, in order to evade federal quotas designed to guarantee the sustainability of certain fish species.
As alleged in the indictment, during that period, Rafael misreported to NOAA approximately 815,812 pounds of fish, telling NOAA the fish was haddock, or some other abundant species subject to high quotas, when in fact the fish was cod, sole, or other species subject to strict quotas. After submitting false records to federal regulators, Rafael allegedly sold most of the fish to a wholesale business in New York City in exchange for bags of cash. During meetings with the undercover agents, Rafael allegedly said that in his most recent dealings with the New York buyer he received $668,000 in cash.
The indictment alleges that Rafael, with the assistance of Freitas – who was also a Department of Homeland Security Task Force Officer which gave him access to restricted areas of Logan Airport – smuggled at least some of that cash out of the United States to his native Portugal. The indictment alleges that, on Feb. 5, 2016, with assistance of another individual, Freitas smuggled $17,500 through airport security and later deposited the money in a Portuguese bank account belonging to Rafael.
The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Twenty-three of the charges of falsifying records submitted to the federal government carry the same potential sentence, while two counts, brought under a different statute, provide for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The charges of bulk cash smuggling and monetary structuring provide a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; Rear Admiral Linda L. Fagan, Commander of the First Coast Guard District; Timothy Donovan, Acting Assistant Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement; Gregory K. Null, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Office; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Andrew E. Lelling, of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit, and David G. Tobin, of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unit.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.