Carlos Rafael, owner of Carlos Seafood, formally pleaded guilty to falsifying fish quotas, tax evasion and conspiracy on Thursday, 30 March, 2017, in U.S. District Court in Boston, Massachusetts, a report from South Coast Today confirmed.
During the hearing, the U.S. District attorney recommended that Rafael serve 46 months in prison for the crimes he has pleaded guilty to; a sentencing hearing has been tentatively scheduled for 27 June. William Kettlewell, Rafael’s attorney, has yet to comment on the case’s latest developments, but his office plans on releasing a statement soon, according to the newspaper report.
When asked why he wanted to plead guilty, Rafael replied, "To get this over with," according to South Coast Today.
Rafael was arrested in February 2016 based on allegations he was connected to a criminal fishing scheme involving the evasion of fishing quotas and the smuggling of profits to Portugal. Official charges levied against Rafael following his arrest included one count of conspiracy, 25 counts of falsifying records and one count of bulk cash smuggling. A new charge, tax evasion, was also added to the list in the weeks leading up to Rafael’s late-March plea – the Carlos Seafood owner failed to pay USD 108,929 (EUR 101,872) in taxes, according to the prosecution.
"Today I pled guilty to the charges facing me," Rafael said in a statement released by his lawyers, obtained by South Coast Today. "I am not proud of the things I did that brought me here, but admitting them is the right thing to do, and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions."
"Mr. Rafael's scheme not only compromised delicate fish populations, but also profited on the backs of his hard-working crew," said acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said in a statement during the 30 March proceedings.
Weinreb continued: "Mr. Rafael knew he was breaking the law by falsifying records, evading taxes and smuggling ill-gotten profits to Portugal. Without Mr. Rafael and his scheme, New England fishermen who work hard for honest pay can now enjoy a more level playing field."