Coast Guardsman Indicted on Conspiracy Charge

NEWPORT NEWS – A Coast Guardsman has been indicted on charges of helping a local fishing company hire illegal immigrants – including telling the company how to counsel workers to elude capture.

Chief Petty Officer Morris Hughes, an instructor at Training Center Yorktown, was indicted on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by impeding the functions of the Coast Guard and other agencies, four counts of unauthorized use of a government computer, and two counts of giving out confidential information.

The U.S. attorney’s office stated that, between November 2003 and December 2006, Hughes had a relationship with a corporate officer of a commercial fishing company .

On several occasions, prosecutors allege, Hughes accessed government databases and unlawfully disseminated the information to the corporate officer.

According to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s, Hughes told the company official to instruct her foreign-born workers to leave their identity documents at home during fishing trips and claim to be United States citizens if the boats were boarded,” as a way of avoiding capture.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

If convicted, Hughes faces a maximum of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and up to one year in prison on each of the remaining six counts.

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