The excursion boat Liberty Belle was intercepted by the New York City Sheriff’s Office on Saturday evening and the owners and captain arrested on charges that included holding an illegal party, violating emergency regulations on social distancing and breaches of the Alcohol Beverage Control Law.
The incident appears to have started with a tweet from the residents’ association of an apartment complex when the vessel set off on its cruise. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brew replied that she was contacted city and state agencies and the Sheriff’s Office responded, intercepting the vessel when it returned to New York’s Pier 36.
The Sheriff’s Office is the primary civil law enforcement agency for New York City. Itis a division of the New York City Department of Finance, operating as an enforcement arm.
The Liberty Belle is a classic riverboat-style vessel of 600 guests capacity operated by Empire Cruises which, according to its website, has been forced to cease its operations until further notice by a City of New York emergency executive order issued March 16.
The two owners arrested by the Sheriff’s office are identified in media reports as Ronny Vargas and Alex Suazo. The boat’s captain, who has not been named, has been issued a summons for not properly displaying the vessel’s identification number, the Sheriff’s Office said.