Participation in an organized criminal group

Offences

• Agreement to commit a serious crime (conspiracy)

Keywords

• conspiracy

Wildlife, forest and fisheries crime

Offences

• Fisheries crime

Details

• Undocumented/unlicensed conduct
• Document forgery

Keywords

• Catching
• Transfer/Transportation
• Domestic trade/supply
• Domestic protected species
• Product
• Documentation

United States of America, v. Carlos A. Rafael

UNODC No.:
USAx147

Fact Summary

Carlos Rafael, a U.S. citizen originally from Portugal, owned one of the largest commercial fishing enterprises in the United States. Headquartered in New Bedford, Massachusetts, he was the sole shareholder of Carlos Seafood and owned over 30 fishing boats, of which he used to employ people and sustain his business. Rafael had been known to federal law enforcement authorities in the U.S. for a significant amount of time prior to his most current offenses after having been subjected to numerous criminal investigations dating back to the 1980s. Convicted two out of three times on charges which included tax evasion and false statements, Rafael had been previously incarcerated.

During the time he owned his business, Rafael had conspired with multiple people to intentionally lie to federal government agencies about both the amounts of and species of fish he caught so that he could subvert laws and regulations set forth by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States, concerning fish catching quotas. This was a plan to bring in more profit and personally enrich himself. Throughout the duration of his scheme, Rafael conspired to conceal and launder money acquired from his illegal catches of fish with the help of another business owner located in New York City while at the same time illegally transferring large sums of illegally obtained and illicit money from the United States to Portugal with the help of a law enforcement officer working in Logan International Airport.

In January of 2015, Rafael decided it was time to sell his successful business. Responding to a newspaper article about Rafael's endeavor to sell the business, undercover Internal Revenue Service agents assumed the guise of a broker and two Russian immigrants with ties to organized criminal activity who wanted to buy the business. During the course of negotiations about the sale of the business, the undercover agents recorded Rafael speaking about his criminal activity in great detail. Rafael admitted to intentionally falsifying information on federal forms on a consistent basis with the help of an employee who worked in his New Bedford office related to the details of the fish he was catching and selling. Rafael consistently misreported and misrepresented the total amounts of and species of fish he was catching by hundreds of thousands of pounds on fishing trip reports and dealer reports, mandatory information to be submitted to the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration online. He would lie and and say he had caught fish that were subject to more lenient quotas than the ones he actually caught. Rafael would then be fronted cash by Michael Perreti, a business owner based in New York City, on a consistent basis in exchange for Rafael hiring a delivery truck service to bring his illegally caught fish to Perreti in New York City almost daily.

Carlos Rafael made significant profits and was able to conceal a substantial amount from the government of the United States throughout the time period he was involved in this unlawful scheme. He laundered money with the help of Perreti and then illegally transferred it to Portuguese bank accounts with the help of Antonio Freitas, who was working as a Customs and Border Patrol Agent at Logan International Airport in Boston. Rafael and Freitas, who enlisted the help of his fiancé, routinely conspired to smuggle amounts of cash in excess of $10,000 to Portugal without declaring it to the United States, a punishable offense.

After a thorough investigation by law enforcement in which this information was uncovered, Carlos Rafael and Antonio Freitas were charged in a 28 count indictment on May 4th, 2016 which included the offenses of Conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371, False Labeling and Identification in violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d), 3373(d), Falsification of Federal Records in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519, Bulk Cash Smuggling in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5332(a), 5316, False Labeling and Fish Identification, Structuring Export of Monetary Instruments in violation of 31 U.S.C.§ 5324(c)(3), and Aiding and Abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2.

In addition to the above charges, there were two criminal forfeiture allegations brought against the defendants: Criminal Forfeiture Allegation in violation of 16 U.S.C. § 3374(a), 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) and Bulk Cash & Structuring Criminal Forfeiture Allegation in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5317(c)(1), 5332(b)(2). Freitas went to trial and Raphael did not.

As a result of the investigation into the organized criminal activity of Carlos Rafael and his various associates, which led to the aforementioned indictment and subsequent guilty plea to all 28 counts that he was charged with including Tax Evasion in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201, the court sentenced Raphael to 46 months in prison. Rafael was also ordered to forfeit 4 of his fishing vessels and 34 fishing permits. It was further ordered that Rafael be given three years supervised release, a $200,000 fine, and a special assessment of $2,800 ($100 for each count he was charged with).

Commentary and Significant Features

The case of Carlos Rafael was much reported-on in the media, which coined the case "The Codfather" based on the fact that Rafael mislabelled fish species, among other cod fish.

The case caught a lot of attention due to the longevity of Carlos Rafael's illegal activities, the scope and scale of his business, and the complexity of his scheme, which involved collaboration with a national official.

An important investigative tool in this case was the deployment of an undercover agent who acted as potential buyer of Carlos' business. During their investigation, Carlos Rafael revealed to the agents that he was engaging in his illegal scheme already for over thirty years.

There was some controversy in the national media following Rafael's sentence regarding the loss of employment of people that had worked for him on his fishing vessels and community concern for the economy of New Bedford, which was adversely affected by the demise of Rafael's business. There was also some debate between the judge, prosecution, and defense as to the legitimacy of the scope of the forfeiture allegations against Rafael. Judge William G. Young expressed concern that the estimation of the value of Rafael's vessels and fishing permits far exceeded the amount that was constitutionally allowed to be confiscated by the government as punishment for his crimes. In the end, the court maximized the amount of fish boats and permits confiscated to the extent which was constitutionally allowable by the 8th Amendment, which protects people from excessive punishments. This case reinforced the zero tolerance policy of the United States for those who seek to circumvent the laws and regulations which relate to the protection of the environment and animals. The Lacey Act prohibits trade and transportation of animals which have been illegally caught. Carlos Raphael violated the provisions of this act and was punished to the full extent of the law.

Sentence Date:
2017-09-25
Author:
Isiah LeGendre, ECPR SGOC Winterwschool 2019

Cross Cutting

Liability

... for

• completed offence

... based on

• criminal intention

... as involves

• principal offender(s)

Investigation

Details

• Special investigative techniques
• electronic or other forms of surveillance
• undercover operation(s)

Confiscation & Seizure

Seized Property:

The following items were confiscated:

1. one fishing vessel named Lady Patricia, bearing vessel identification number 1028791 and permit number 330200;

2. one fishing vessel named Olivia & Rafaela, bearing vessel identification number 553777 and permit number 330236;

3. one fishing vessel named Bulldog, bearing vessel identification number 937040 and permit number 410471; and

4. one fishing vessel named Southern Crusader II, bearing vessel identification number 1038917 and permit number 330904.

 
Legal Basis:

Legal basis of confiscation: Forfeiture is statutorily mandated seeing as Raphael violated the Lacey Act when he falsified information about the fish he caught and lied to the NOAA.

 
  • :
    Conviction based
  • • Electronic Evidence

    Procedural Information

    Legal System:
    Common Law
    Latest Court Ruling:
    Court of 1st Instance
    Type of Proceeding:
    Criminal
     
     
    Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Is the decision appealable?:
    No
  • Official Case Reference:
    Criminal Action No. 16-10124-WGY
  • Court

    Court Title:
    United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    Federal Courthouse Boston
  • Province:
    Massachusetts
  • • Criminal
    Description:

    Raphael plead guilty. He was subsequently sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court and his property was confiscated.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Guilty
  • Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
    3 years 10 Months
     
    Other Sanctions:

    Raphael's property (fishing vessels) was seized and he was sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment (46 months).

    if other please specify: 1. one fishing vessel named Lady Patricia, bearing vessel identification number 1028791 and permit number 330200;

    2. one fishing vessel named Olivia & Rafaela, bearing vessel identification number 553777 and permit number 330236;

    3. one fishing vessel named Bulldog, bearing vessel identification number 937040 and permit number 410471; and

    4. one fishing vessel named Southern Crusader II, bearing vessel identification number 1038917 and permit number 330904. He was also fined.

     

    Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

    Defendant:
    Carlos Raphael
    Gender:
    Male
    Nationality:
    Portuguese / American
    Age:
    65

    Charges / Claims / Decisions

    Defendant:
    Carlos Raphael
    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:
    Conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. §371
    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:
    False Labeling and Identification in violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d) and 3373(d)
    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:
    Falsification of Federal Records in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519
    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:
    Bulk Cash Smuggling in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5332(a), 5316
    Charge / Claim:

    False Labeling and Fish Identification, Structuring Export of Monetary Instruments in violation of 31 U.S.C.§ 5324(c)(3)

    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:

    Aiding and Abetting in violation of 18 U.S.C. §2

    Verdict:
    Guilty
    Charge / Claim:

    Tax Evasion in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201

    Term of Imprisonment:
    3 years 10 Months
     
    Fine / Payment to State:
    200000  USD   (100,000-500,000 USD)  

    Court

    United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts

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