Miami-based surveyor lied to Coast Guard, faces prison

courtMAY 30, 2012 – A federal jury in Miami last week convicted a Miami-based ship surveyor for lying to the Coast Guard and for falsely certifying the safety of ships at sea, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Alejandro Gonzalez, 60, of Miami-Dade County, was convicted by a federal jury in Miami of three counts of making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard and one count of obstruction of an agency proceeding. The defendant faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison on each count. Sentencing is currently scheduled for August 2, 2012.

The jury found Gonzalez guilty of lying to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors and a criminal investigator during an interview in April 2009 about the drydocking of the M/V Cala Galdana, a 68-meter cargo vessel, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Gonzalez repeatedly claimed the vessel was drydocked in Cartagena, Colombia, in March 2006, while evidence at the trial established that the vessel was never in Colombia during 2006.

U.S. Coast Guard inspectors in San Juan discovered the vessel taking on water in August 2008 and requested information concerning the last drydocking of the vessel. Gonzalez concocted a false story about the vessel being drydocked in Colombia in 2006 when he knew it was not.

Gonzalez was also convicted of falsifying documents in December 2009 for the M/V Cosette, a 92-meter cargo vessel. As the surveyor on behalf of Bolivia, Gonzalez certified the ship as safe for sea while the vessel was docked in Fort Pierce, in November 2009. When the vessel shortly thereafter arrived in New York City harbor, U.S. Coast Guard inspectors discovered exhaust and fuel pouring into the ship’s engine room, endangering the crew and the ship. For his action, Gonzalez was convicted of making a false statement and obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard Port State Control examination.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich and Trial Attorney Kenneth Nelson, of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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