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Man convicted with scuttling own boat

FEB. 16 — A 42-year-old California man has been convicted of charges related to the scuttling of his own boat in a Los Angeles channel.

Prosecutors this month argued that David K. Bachtel of San Pedro holed the hull of his 37-foot Chris-Craft, removed its registration numbers, and sank the boat, later telling investigators he had sold it, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s office. Bachtel reportedly was convicted on five felony counts, including discharging oil into the water, obstructing an investigation and making false statements, as well as a misdemeanor count of obstructing a navigable channel.

On March 5, 2005, Bachtel is said to have towed the Chris-Craft to Los Angeles’ Consolidated Slip Channel, where he left it to sink, the release says. Divers hired to contain the subsequent oil spill and raise the boat found several holes in the hull that reportedly were made from the inside.

When the Coast Guard contacted Bachtel about the sunken boat, he claimed to know nothing about it, the release says. On March 16, according to the indictment, Bachtel submitted a release of liability form to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, claiming he had sold the boat March 1 for $100 to “Jose Lopez.”

Bachtel faces a maximum sentence of 26 years in prison, according to news reports. His sentencing is scheduled for May 8.

Coast Guard officials say some three dozen boats have been found scuttled in or near the Port of Los Angeles in the last 18 months, the release says. Last September, Ahmet “Turk” Artuner, 56, of Ferndale, Wash., was indicted by a jury in Los Angeles for deliberately sinking his 73-foot fishing boat about three miles southwest of Oxnard, Calif., and then lying to authorities about it.

— Jason Fell