Charter boat skipper charged in scuttling - Soundings Online

Charter boat skipper charged in scuttling

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A Massachusetts charter captain in June was charged in federal court with one count of violating the state’s Refuse Act after allegedly towing his boat off Gloucester, Mass., and sinking it in a commercial shipping lane.

A Massachusetts charter captain in June was charged in federal court with one count of violating the state’s Refuse Act after allegedly towing his boat off Gloucester, Mass., and sinking it in a commercial shipping lane.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges that Thomas W. Lukegord, 46, of Gloucester, last May removed the fuel and oil from his 62-foot charter boat, Nicole Renee, towed it to a spot off Plum Island, and sank it in 100 feet of water. Courtsank the boat by pumping 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.

Lukegord agreed to plead guilty to the charge, according to the U.S. attorney’s office, and faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail, with a year of supervised release and a $25,000fine. According to Lukegord’s plea agreement, however, the federal prosecutor recommended that he serve one year of probation, pay a $2,000 fine and $1,928.26 in restitution to the Coast Guard for raising the boat. The Attorney’s Office also suggested that within two weeks of his sentencing Lukegord publish a public apology for his actions in a number of publications read by mariners.

In 2000 Lukegord purchased a 30-footer, named Jilly, to replace the aging Nicole Renee, according to court papers. Lukegord cancelled his insurance on Nicole Renee and tried unsuccessfully to sell her. Between July 2004 and May 2005 she reportedly sank several times on her mooring in the Little River. Each time Lukegord refloated her.

Lukegord refloated Nicole Renee for the final time May 6, 2005, and apparently decided to scuttle the boat instead of paying approximately $10,000 to properly dispose of it, 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 is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

As of mid-July, Lukegord’s hearing had yet to be scheduled.