March 9, 2017 — Carlos Rafael, who was labeled by the Department of Justice as the owner of the largest commercial fishing business in New England, will plead guilty to federal charges as part of a settlement he reached with the government, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts said Wednesday.
Rafael of Dartmouth was scheduled to appear in federal court on March 20. Instead he’s scheduled to plead guilty to evading fishing quotas and smuggling profits to Portugal in U.S. District Court in Boston at 2 p.m. on March 16. The U.S. Attorney’s office provided no further details regarding the plea deal.
Rafael’s attorney, William Kettlwell, did not return requests asking for comment.
Often referred to as the “Codfather” as the owner of more than 40 boats ported in New Bedford and Gloucester, Rafael faced one count of conspiracy, 25 counts of lying to federal fishing regulators and one count of bulk cash smuggling.
The indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney last May listed 22 examples of Rafael falsely claiming his vessels caught either haddock or pollock from June 2012 through January 2016. According to the indictment, in those circumstances Rafael actually caught fish that were subject to stricter quotas than haddock or pollock like American plaice, yellowtail or gray sole.