False Citizenship Claim Leads to Conviction

Monday, June 27, 2005
R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Hal Robbins, Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Division, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Keith Perniciaro, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Jonathan Sall, Special Agent in Charge, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, Southeast Region, announced today that defendant, David N. Straker, a citizen of Barbados residing in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, was convicted by guilty plea and sentenced by United States District Court Judge Paul Huck in Miami, Florida, in connection with the submission of false document to the United States Coast Guard, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Straker, was sentenced to a one (1) year term of probation and a fine of $5,000, including a condition that he perform fifteen (15) hours of community service during each month he is resident in the United States.

According to the criminal Indictment, statements in court, and court records, Straker purchased a U.S. flag fishing vessel, the F/V Hannah Lee in Louisiana in October 2003. Shortly after the purchase, he executed an Application For Documentation to the United States Coast Guard in order to have the vessel transferred into his name. On the Application, he twice indicated and certified that he was a citizen of the United States. Under U.S. law, entry into certain regulated fishing activities is based on the issuance of permits by NOAA, and is restricted vessels of the United States. Foreign nationals such as Straker, may not document a vessel under U.S. law, and under certain circumstances must be under the direction of a captain who is a American citizen.

The F/V Hannah Lee was operated as a long-line fishing vessel under the U.S. flag after being purchased by Straker and in fact had trans-shipped fish to the United States through Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement, United States Coast Guard Investigative Service, and Immigration & Customs Enforcement. The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald.

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