Carlos Rafael, a Massachusetts fishing tycoon known as “The Codfather,” is reportedly taking the bait in a settlement deal with the Department of Justice, federal officials said.
The owner of the largest commercial fishing enterprise in New England will plead guilty to federal charges of evading fishing quotas and smuggling money to his native Portugal in a hearing scheduled for March 16, The Providence Journal reported Thursday.
In February 2016, federal authorities arrested Rafael, then 64, after he allegedly misreported 815,812 pounds of fish from 2012 to 2016 in an effort to sidestep quotas set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to protect vulnerable fish populations.
According to the Department of Justice, Rafael repeatedly lied to NOAA during the four-year period, telling his boat captains to mislabel thousands of pounds of fish as species such as haddock instead of cod, yellowtail and other types with stricter quotas.
During an undercover investigation, federal agents posing as Russian gangsters heard Rafael describe “bags of cash” he received from New York buyers in exchange for his illegal catch, The Boston Globe reported.
Some of Rafael’s money was smuggled to Portugal with the help of Antonio Freitas, who allegedly used his position as a Homeland Security Task Force officer to access restricted areas in Boston’s Logan International Airport during the criminal operation.
Rafael was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bulk cash smuggling and 25 counts of falsifying records. Freitas was arrested in May and charged with bulk cash smuggling and international structuring.
The Huffington Post reached out to William H. Kettlewell, Rafael’s lawyer, but an associate at his law firm said the attorney would not comment.