Merchant Mariner Sentenced

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Joseph A. Boevink (51) of Panama City, Fla., was sentenced by United States District Judge Thomas S. Zilly in Seattle to two months in custody, followed by up to 60 days in a halfway house, and two years of supervised release, for falsely claiming that he had never been convicted of a criminal offense on an application for Merchant Mariner license submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard in Seattle in January 2001.

The U.S. Coast Guard is required under federal law to issue such licenses, called Merchant Mariner Documents, to individuals employed on large merchant vessels. One of the purposes of the license is to ensure that the U.S. Coast Guard knows who has access to, and is traveling on, merchant vessels that operate within United States waters. Boevink was convicted of the offense of False Statement to a United States Agency on March 10, 2004, following a two-day trial before a federal jury in Seattle.

The case marks the first time a merchant mariner, identified through the nationwide U.S. Coast Guard initiative known as "Operation Drydock," has been convicted of a criminal offense at trial. Court records show that in December 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard initiated "Operation Drydock," a comprehensive criminal and counterterrorism investigation designed to identify vulnerabilities in the merchant mariner credentialing process. The Coast Guard, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF) and other interagency partners, compared the names of over 220,000 credentialed merchant mariners against law enforcement information to identify anomalies. Joseph A. Boevink was identified as an active mariner who had made false statements on his application for a Merchant Mariner Document concerning past criminal convictions and drug use. While there is no evidence Boevink has any association with terrorism, the U.S. Coast Guard determined that Boevink had falsely claimed that he had never been convicted of a criminal offense (other than a traffic offense), when in fact BOEVINK previously had suffered convictions for burglary and possession and use of drug paraphernalia. This case was investigated by Special Agents with the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Northwest Region. Special Assistant United States Attorney E. Kate Patchen and Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence Lincoln prosecuted the case.

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