Ferry Captain Sentenced to 5 Months for Fraudelent License

NEW YORK- A Hoboken, N.J., man was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Manhattan Tuesday to two five-month terms of confinement, to run concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release after he plead guilty to piloting a passenger ferry with a fraudulent Coast Guard Masters License and making false statements to the federal government.

Lenny Roman, 29 of Hoboken, N.J., piloted the 79-foot water taxi Little Lady when the vessel lost propulsion and required a tow Jan. 13, 2006 during a transit from Jersey City, N.J. to Manhattan. During a U.S. Coast Guard marine casualty investigation, officers determined that the Coast Guard Masters License Roman possessed was a fake. Roman fled Jan. 19, 2006 when Coast Guard Investigative Service agents attempted to interview him at his home.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York secured an arrest warrant Feb. 14, 2006. Coast Guard Investigative Service agents and U.S. Marshals arrested Roman Feb. 17, 2006 at a residence in West New York, N.J. A grand jury indicted Roman March 17, 2006 on one count of misuse of a federal certificate, document or license (18 U.S.C. § 2197) and one count of making false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the federal government (18 U.S.C. § 1001), both felony offenses.

The investigation and prosecution of Roman included Coast Guard Sector New York, Coast Guard Investigative Service, First Coast Guard District Legal Office, U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

“The successful investigation, prosecution, and sentencing result in the Roman case reinforces the Coast Guard’s commitment, along with its partner agencies, to keeping our waterways safe by ensuring that only properly licensed personnel operate vessels as regulations require,” said Capt Robert R. O’Brien, Coast Guard Sector New York Commander and Captain of the Port of New York and New Jersey.

“The judge took these charges very seriously” said Capt. Frederick Kenney, First Coast Guard District’s Legal Officer in Boston. “This case sends a strong message that potential threats to the safety of passengers commuting aboard public waterborne transportation systems and attempts to undermine the integrity and security of the marine licensing and transportation system will be dealt with severely in federal court.”

Roman worked as a ferry captain from Sept. 2005 until Jan. 2006 for the Jersey City-based Harbor Ferry, LLC.

The U.S. Coast Guard Masters License allows the holder to operate inspected vessels that are certified by the Coast Guard to carry more than six paying passengers plus crew. Ferry boats, harbor tours boats, whale watching boats are examples of inspected vessels. Mariners may qualify for Masters Licenses for inland waters and near-coastal waters. The level of license a mariner may hold depends on experience and size of vessel rated by tonnage. In order to obtain a valid license, mariners must complete a rigorous training and examination program, and are subject to a comprehensive background check.

For more information on Coast Guard licensing, visit USCG Licensing or read 46 CFR, Chapter 1, Part 10 – Licensing of Maritime Personnel.

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