A New Bedford fishing mogul known as "The Codfather" is facing new federal allegations for misreporting the amount of fish harvested by his fleet, this time in the scallop fishery.
"The Codfather," or Carlos Rafael, is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence for falsifying groundfish quota, and for other offenses including tax evasion and bulk cash smuggling.
Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is alleging Rafael lied about how many scallops four of his vessels caught during fishing trips in 2013. NOAA is looking to revoke permits issued to those vessels and charge Rafael a penalty of $843,528.
Peter Shelley, senior counsel at the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, said these new allegations are critical.
"I think (these allegations) will be a strong enough deterrent that will really discourage people who might want to break the law from doing that, and it certainly will support the many fishermen in the fishery who obeyed the law that they’re not doing it for vain, that the agency will back them up," Shelley said.
Shelly said New Bedford hopes the fishing quota in Rafael’s permits will be redistributed to fishermen in the city; however, not everyone in the scallop fishery agrees.
"Fishermen in other states and their politicians are saying not so fast, the reason New Bedford got all those scallops in the first place was because of this guys illegal behavior and New Bedford shouldn’t be able to benefit from the fruit of the poison tree as they say," Shelley said.
NOAA also seeks to revoke the operator permits of two of Rafael’s scallop vessel captains.
Other penalties a part of this new criminal case include revoking Rafael’s 38 commercial fishing permits; revoking the seafood dealer permit issued to Carlos Seafood, Inc; charging Rafael a $140,000 penalty for misreporting where his fleet caught yellowtail flounder in 2012; and denying any of his future applications for any permits issued by NOAA under the Magnuson-Stevens Act.