Ohio Man Sentenced for Operating a Recreational Vessel in a Grossly Negligent Manner

TOLEDO, Ohio – Stephen A. Steinle, of Fremont, Ohio, was sentenced on February 20, 2007 to two years of probation, 6 months home detention with electronic monitoring and a $10,000 fine for operating a recreational vessel on Lake Erie in a grossly negligent manner.

At the sentencing hearing, U. S. Magistrate Judge Vernelis K. Armstrong also ordered Mr. Steinle not to operate a boat or water craft for 1 year, to complete a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary boater safety course and to have his boating registration and related privileges suspended for 1 year.

On November 8, 2006, Steinle pleaded guilty to grossly negligent operation of a vessel and willful failure to terminate his voyage after directed to do so by the U.S. Coast Guard. On May 26, 2006, the Coast Guard received a report from the Kelly’s Island Police Department of a boat that departed the Kelly’s Island marina at night without navigation lights. The report to the Coast Guard also indicated the crew of the vessel appeared to be intoxicated. Mr. Steinle’s boat was intercepted and stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard. According to sentencing documents, the Coast Guard Boarding Officer notice a strong odor of alcoholic beverages coming from Mr. Steinle, his speech was slurred and confused and he had bloodshot and watery eyes. Mr. Steinle was also belligerent, uncooperative and used vulgar language towards Coast Guard and Ohio Department of Natural Resources officers. Because Mr. Steinle appeared intoxicated the Coast Guard terminated his voyage. After Mr. Steinle’s boat was moored at the Marblehead Coast Guard station Mr. Steinle refused to leave his boat, insisted on leaving and started his boat’s engine in order to leave.

Gregory White, U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio said, “The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to assisting the Coast Guard in conjunction with state and local law enforcement to protect the public from the dangers of intoxicated and unruly boaters. Intoxicated boaters place not only themselves and their passengers, but also other users of our water resources in great danger.”

According to Rear Admiral John E. Crowley, Jr., Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, Coast Guard boating safety statistics compiled from state boating accident reports indicate alcohol use is either a direct or contributing factor in approximately one-quarter of all boating fatalities. In addition, alcohol use is ranked as one of the top ten contributing factors in all boating accidents. A boat operator with a blood alcohol content above .10% is estimated to be more than ten times likely to die in a boating accident than a sober operator.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Thomas Weldon and Special
Assistant U. S. Attorney Larry Kennedy.

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