Mitchell: ‘Codfather’ Can Make Millions in Jail If Not Allowed to Sell Vessels, Permits
Earlier this week, "The Codfather" Carlos Rafael filed a motion to oppose forfeiting his fishing boats and permits to the U.S. government as part of his guilty plea.
In his weekly appearance on WBSM, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said taking away the boats and permits used in Rafael's scheme will punish those innocent people dependent on his groundfish landings, while Rafael himself will stake rake in the proceeds from his more lucrative scalloping business.
"Carlos has broken a lot of laws over the years, and I don't think anyone on the waterfront is crying tears for Carlos Rafael. He should go to jail," Mitchell said. "The problem the government faces is that it doesn't have the legal or evidentiary basis to put him out of business entirely, because the evidence they have on him doesn't extend to all of his boats. Most of his scallopers, which are the ones bringing in a great deal of his money, are not implicated in his case."
"He'll still be left with his scallop fleet. Carlos can sit in a jail cell, keep making millions of dollars, then be released and go back into business."
Mitchell has proposed to the government that instead, Rafael is allowed to sell off his entire business, with all of his vessels and permits, to interested parties in New Bedford that would keep the business local, rather than the government seizing permits and distributing them outside of the area.
"I've asked that they exercise a little bit of discretion here, and let him, if he sees fit, to sell his assets off, let him take the proceeds of that sale to satisfy his forfeiture obligations to the government, go to jail, and we'll call it a day," Mitchell said. "But it does require Carlos to be willing to take a discount on those assets, so it might be up to him as much as it is up to the government."
Mitchell said it is unlikely Rafael will prevail in his attempt to oppose the forfeiture, mostly because he's already entered a guilty plea.
"I just don't want any of those licenses to leave town. He is by far the most, in the way of the groundfish quota," he said. "I know groundfishing only accounts for seven percent of annual landings in the port, but that's still millions of dollars."
The decision from the government is expected on September 25th.