Great Lakes 'captain' gets seven years for fraud

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(CLEVELAND) (May 6) — A Coast Guard investigation has led to the sentencing of a man by the Department of Justice for piloting commercial ships on the Great Lakes with a fraudulent Coast Guard license.

Mark Anselm, 37, of Clayton, N.Y., was sentenced to seven years in prison by a U.S. District Court judge on Monday after having pled guilty to six felony offenses.

Inspectors with Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, New York, initiated an investigation after Anselm grounded his vessel on June 19, 2012. Interviews revealed that Anselm presented himself as a licensed ship captain and was operating on a fraudulent merchant marine license that had been altered to include his name. Additionally, Anselm used the fraudulent license to gain employment at various marinas.

The case was referred to a criminal investigation resulting in Coast Guard Investigative Services conducting multiple interviews with industry members in upstate New York. These interviews, along with information released by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York, led CGIS to discover multiple victims of Anselm's scheme to defraud.

According to agents at CGIS Buffalo, Anselm used his fraudulent license to solicit maritime construction contracts, collecting nearly $300,000 in down payments, but never fulfilled contractual obligations to complete the work.

"The Coast Guard enforces mariner credentialing laws to ensure the safety of the public and the marine transportation system," said Cmdr. David Webb of the Coast Guard 9th District's Inspections and Investigations Branch. "Those standards are in place to ensure vessel operators are trained and competent in navigation safety. We are pleased with this ruling, which takes a fraudulent mariner off of the water."

By Professional Mariner Staff