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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hamburg Man Pleads Guilty To Sinking A Boat In The Black Rock Canal

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Paul E. Van Voorhees, 55, of Hamburg, NY, pleaded guilty to obstruction of waterways before Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison.    
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who is handling the case, the defendant was the Dock Master at the Buffalo Yacht Club and was responsible for maintenance of the buildings, grounds, and marina. On November 5, 2015, Van Vorhees and another employee of the Buffalo Yacht Club towed a damaged 13’ aluminum row boat that had been floating in the water in front of the Buffalo Yacht Club into the Black Rock Canal.  After reaching a certain location in the canal, the defendant released the boat into the canal with the intention of sinking it in the canal. A witness alerted the United States Coast Guard (USCG). During an initial interview with USCG personnel, Van Voorhees denied releasing the boat into the canal.  The boat was eventually recovered by the USCG from the Black Rock Canal. In a subsequent interview on December 23, 2015, the defendant admitted that he attempted to sink the boat in the canal. 

“Our area's waterways are not to be turned into someone's private junkyard,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation by the United States Coast Guard, Buffalo Sector, under the direction of Captain Brian Roche, and by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Buffalo Resident Agent Office, under the direction of Resident Agent in Charge Cindy C. Buckley.
Sentencing is scheduled for October, 19, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Skretny.

Updated August 2, 2016