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Press Release

Two Franklin County Men Ordered to Pay $1,584 in Restitution and Fines for Abandoning Junk Boat in Missisquoi River on the National Wildlife Refuge

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Vermont

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that on June 2, 2022 Wayne Bailey, 68, of Swanton and Louis Bates, 49, of St. Albans pleaded guilty to abandoning a junk boat and setting it adrift in the Missisquoi River on the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle ordered Bailey to pay $684 in restitution and a $300 fine and Bates to pay $400 in restitution and a $200 fine. The restitution reimburses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for the costs of disposing of the boat. 

The offense is a Class B misdemeanor and carried a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. In determining the fine amount, Magistrate Judge Doyle considered the defendants’ limited means to pay a larger fine. 

According to court records, in the early summer of 2021, Wayne Bailey bought a 19 ½ foot long Bayliner boat for $150. The boat was manufactured in 1989. Bailey removed the engine from the boat and sold the engine. Rather than paying to dispose of the boat properly, Bailey devised a plan to set the junk boat adrift in the Missisquoi River. Bailey, however, did not have a tow hitch on his vehicle so he recruited Bates to use Bates’s truck to tow the boat to the Missisquoi River. 

After dark on the evening of July 15, 2021, Bates towed the boat to Louie’s Landing boat ramp on the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, and Bailey followed in his own vehicle. Bates then backed the boat trailer into the river, and Bailey unhooked the boat and set it adrift. The next day FWS personnel discovered the boat. The engine was gone, but the remaining gas tank contained 4 ½ gallons of gas. The FWS incurred about $1,084 in costs for the proper disposal of the boat and the associated administrative expenses.

The following two photographs are of the boat in the Missisquoi River.


Profile picture of boat in the river


Interior picture of abandoned boat in Missisquoi River


U.S. Attorney Nikolas P. Kerest stated that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to vigorously enforcing our federal environmental laws, which protect and preserve our public lands and waterways for all to enjoy. Enforcement is particularly important in cases such as this where the evidence established that the defendants displayed a callous disrespect for the Vermont environment. 

This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Perella. Wayne Bailey was represented by Mary Nerino, Esq. of the Office of the Federal Public Defender and Louis Bates was represented by Michael Straub, Esq.

Updated June 3, 2022