Florida Keys Boat Lift Installation Company and South Florida Resident Sentenced in Connection with Rivers and Harbors Act Violations
A Florida Keys boat lift installation company and a South Florida resident pled guilty and were sentenced in connection with the installation of illegal boat lifts without the requisite federal permits from the United States Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE).
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Colonel Jason Kirk, District Engineer, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District; John F. Khin, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Southeast Field Office; Frank Robey, Director, United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit; and Andy Castro, Special Agent in Charge, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Criminal Investigation Division, Atlanta Area Office.
Florida Keys company Kevin P. Mason Builder, LLC (Mason) and Jennifer Ashlee Davis, 32, of Tavernier, pled guilty and were sentenced today in federal court in Key West before United States District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez. Mason and Davis pled guilty for their involvement in the building of approximately twelve boat lifts and associated structures without federal permits issued by the ACOE, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Sections 403 and 406. Mason was sentenced to five years of probation, ordered to pay a $15,000 fine, and required to implement and enforce an Environmental Compliance Plan. Davis was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
According to court records, including a joint factual statement, the Rivers and Harbors Act prohibits commencing building any structure in any navigable water of the United States without authorization from the ACOE. Mason was in the business of installing boat lifts and other associated structures in navigable waters and was subject to ACOE permitting. Davis was the permitting agent, acting on behalf of Mason and the individual property owners. Both Mason and Davis were responsible for applying for and obtaining all necessary authorization including, but not limited to, ACOE permits. Mason and Davis knew that permits were required, prior to commencing all work. Between February 1, 2015 and September 30, 2015, the Mason and Davis commenced and/or completed 12 boat lift installations knowing no ACOE authorization had been granted.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer stated, “It is imperative that companies and their agents abide by all compliance programs, including permit regulations, to ensure the protection of our environment.”
“The United States Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense, is charged with managing the Intracoastal Waterways to protect vital resources,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Southeast Field Office. “DCIS will investigate those who defraud the Government by circumventing United States law intended to protect our waterways, and hold them accountable for their actions. This resolution sends a clear message that preserving the environment of the Florida Keys is taken very seriously.”
“The United States Army Corps of Engineers, is responsible for regulating construction activities, which affect the navigable waters of the United States,” said Director Frank Robey, Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU), United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (USACIDC). “USACIDC will investigate those who defraud the Government to circumvent United States laws intended to protect our navigable waters, and hold them accountable for their actions. This resolution sends a clear message that preserving the environment of the Florida navigable waters is a priority for the United States Army.”
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DCIS, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, and EPA. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jodi A. Mazer of the Economic & Environmental Crimes Section.