Carlos Rafael sentenced to 46 months in prison

Carlos “the Codfather” Rafael was sentenced to 46 months in prison by a U.S. District Court in Boston on Monday.

Judge William Young also called for three years supervised release and a $200,000 fine. During his prison sentence and the supervised release period, Rafael is banned from having anything to do with commercial fishing.

Rafael was seeking 24 months of probation rather than prison time.

“This was not stupid. This was corrupt. This was a corrupt course of action from start to finish,” Young said to Rafael, according to the Associated Press. “[It was] designed to benefit you. To line your pockets. That’s what it was, and that’s why the court has sentenced you as it has.”

Rafael is scheduled to report to prison Nov. 6. His attorney, William Kettlewell, requested the sentence be served at Fort Devens, according to reports.

Rafael, 65, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, false labeling of fish, bulk cash smuggling, tax evasion and falsifying federal records in March. Since then, industry stakeholders have been debating what should be done with Rafael’s permits and 13 vessels used in the illegal operations — valued from $27 million to $30 million, according to appraisals by the government and defense.

Many New Bedford-based fishermen and industry officials want Rafael’s assets to remain in the city where they can continue supporting the local economy. Others want the assets to be put up for auction and be made available to anyone in the Northeast.

According to the Standard Times, Young said that he had no authority to decide the final fate of the permits and was wary of the constitutionality of seizing all of the highly valued assets.

“I have grave doubts given the value of the vessels and permits,” Young said.

Young also debated the merits of partial forfeiture of the vessels.

“Suppose I give you three,” he reportedly asked the prosecution. “Suppose I give you 10?”

The decision could be handed down to John Bullard, NOAA Northeast regional manager and former New Bedford mayor.

Before the sentencing, Rafael’s lawyer read a statement Rafael had written that described his actions as “stupidest thing I ever did.”

“I just hope whatever I get doesn’t hurt the people on the waterfront,” Rafael wrote. “They don’t deserve that.”

Rafael’s wife Conceicao Rafael has filed in federal district court to claim rights to 11 boats that may be forfeited as a result of his guilty plea.

There have also been reports that Rafael has entered an agreement to sell his entire fleet, removing himself from the commercial fishing industry altogether.

The hearing continues at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

About the author

Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill is associate editor for National Fisherman.

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