Codfather Attempts to Leverage
Permits and Boats


The defense attorney for Carlos Rafael, who pleaded guilty on federal fraud and tax evasion charges, filed documents in U.S. District Court on Thursday which suggest that Rafael may soon be out of the fishing business. In addition to the 13 fishing permits subject to forfeiture, all of Rafael’s permits may change hands before sentencing. The speculation, if not the suggestion, is that selling the other permits may be part of a deal that includes somehow keeping Rafael’s 42 boats in New Bedford as well. All of which, it could be argued, would avert the unemployment and financial hardship brought on New Bedford if the permits and boats went to another port.

The mayor of New Bedford has written a letter to NOAA requesting that Rafael’s permits stay in New Bedford. The New Bedford labor council has made a plea for Rafael’s permits to remain in New Bedford. Mayor Jon Mitchell compared Rafael’s case to government procurement and health care cases. He wrote in the letter: “Administrative agencies often have the ability to close an offending business by ’debarring it from federal contracting’ ... but in practice the government rarely exercises this authority because of potential harm to employees, suppliers and third parties. The revocation or auctioning off of Rafael’s fishing permits should be seen through the same lens.”

Part of the request for a sentencing delay was to give the parties, Rafael’s s defense and counsel for NOAA, time to resolve a critical component in the case-Rafael’s leaving the fishing business, the fate of all the permits and boats and how these might affect the defendant’s argument to the court at sentencing.

The request to delay sentencing is the second since Rafael pleaded guilty to 28 counts, including falsifying fishing quotas, false labeling, conspiracy and tax evasion, in March. Judge William Young agreed to the delay on Friday. The new dates are scheduled for Sept. 25 and 26 in federal district court in Boston.


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