Man Sentenced in Vessel Scuttling Case

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
A Gloucester man was sentenced in federal court for towing his charter boat off the coast of Gloucester and sinking it in a commercial fishing area. United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan; Michael E. Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Enforcement Division in New England; and William Schenkelberg, Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Region of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, announced that THOMAS W. LUKEGORD, JR., age 47, of 121 Wheeler Street, Gloucester, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Dien to one year of probation, a fine, restitution and a public apology, in connection with LUKEGORD'S conviction on one count of violating the Refuse Act. LUKEGORD, the owner of a charter boat service in Gloucester, towed a sixty-two foot charter boat named the Nicole Renee to sea and sank it off the coast of Gloucester in approximately one hundred feet of water. After removing fuel and other hazardous materials from the vessel, LUKEGORD pumped water into it using a bilge pump until it sank stern first. LUKEGORD had looked into disposing of the vessel properly, but chose not to incur the expense. The vessel sank in an area that is fished by commercial fishermen, thereby creating a navigational hazard.

In imposing sentence, Magistrate Judge Dien adopted the sentencing recommendation in the plea agreement filed in the case. In addition to serving one year of probation, LUKEGORD will pay a fine of $2,000. Under the whistleblower provision of the Refuse Act, a portion of the fine will be paid directly to the individuals who reported the Nicole Renee's sinking. LUKEGORD also will pay the Coast Guard $1,928 in restitution, which equals the cost to the Coast Guard in responding to the sinking. Finally, as part of his plea agreement, LUKEGORD will publish an apology in the Gloucester Daily Times and the Standard-Times of New Bedford, the newspapers of the two largest fishing ports in the region. The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell in Sullivan's Economic Crimes Unit and EPA Senior Criminal Enforcement Attorney Peter Kenyon.

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