An unusual punishment: a full-page ad

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A charter captain who intentionally sank his boat is ordered to apologize in two newspapers

A charter captain who intentionally sank his boat is ordered to apologize in two newspapers

A Massachusetts charter captain this winter was sentenced in federal court to serve one year of probation and make a public apology for towing his boat off Gloucester, Mass., and sinking it in a commercial fishing area.

“It’s not worth it,” Thomas W. Lukegord, 47, of Gloucester, says in a full-page advertisement in the Feb. 6 New Bedford (Mass.) Standard-Times newspaper. “I towed my fishing boat, the Nicole Renee, offshore and I sank it. I agreed to pay for this notice so that other boat owners might learn from my mistake. Unpermitted vessel sinking is a crime. It can harm the environment and interfere with safe navigation. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.”

The U.S. attorney’s office argued that Lukegord last May removed the fuel and oil from his 62-foot charter boat, towed it to a spot off PlumIsland, and sank it in 100 feet of water. To scuttle Nicole Renee, he pumped water into it with the bilge pump of another boat, according to court papers. Since the boat was in a commercial fishing area, authorities say it posed a hazard to navigation and violated the state’s Refuse Act.

At the Jan. 16 sentencing, U.S. magistrate judge Judith Dien ordered Lukegord, in accordance with his plea agreement, to publish an apology for his actions in the Standard-Times and the Gloucester Daily Times newspaper, the attorney’s office says. He also was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $1,928 in restitution to the Coast Guard for its response to the sinking. Under the whistleblower provision of the Refuse Act, a portion of the fine will be paid to the individuals who reported the sinking. The attorney’s office didn’t release the names of the whistleblowers.

In 2000 Lukegord purchased a 30-footer, Jilly, to replace the aging Nicole Renee, according to court papers. Lukegord canceled his insurance on Nicole Renee and tried unsuccessfully to sell her. Between 2004 and 2005 the boat reportedly sank several times at her mooring on the Little River. Each time Lukegord refloated her. He apparently decided to scuttle Nicole Renee instead of paying approximately $10,000 to properly dispose of her, the U.S. attorney’s office says.

The case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard. Assistant U.S. attorney Jonathan F. Mitchell, who prosecuted the case, declined comment. Lukegord could not be reached by telephone.