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California Man Arrested and Charged with Oil Release from Scuttled Boat, False Statements, Obstructing an Investigation and Obstructing a Waterway

Release Date: 10/13/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-4355 /

(10/13/05) David K. Bachtel of San Pedro, Calif., was arrested on Sept. 14 on charges that he allegedly released oil into waters of the Port of Los Angeles, obstructed a Coast Guard investigation, made false statements to the Coast Guard and obstructed a waterway, when he allegedly scuttled his 37-foot Chris Craft pleasure boat in the middle of the Consolidated Slip Channel of the Port of Los Angeles on March 5, 2005. Instead of completely sinking, the partially-submerged boat ran aground and it was discovered to be leaking oil when it was found by the Coast Guard the next day. Coast Guard divers concluded that the boat had been intentionally submerged because holes were made in the hull by someone striking it from the inside. All registration numbers had been removed from the boat. When questioned about the boat, the defendant allegedly stated he knew nothing about how the boat became submerged. On March 16, Bachtel filed a release of liability form with the California Division of Motor Vehicles, claiming that the boat had been sold on March 1st to a man named Jose Lopez for $100. Releasing oil into waterways can harm fish and aquatic life, and obstructing waterways can be a hazard to navigation. The case was investigated by the Coast Guard's Criminal Investigative Service, the Los Angeles Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Los Angeles Port Police. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.