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Washington State Man Charged with Sinking Fishing Boat Off California Coast

Release Date: 10/13/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-4355 /

(10/13/05) Ahmet Artuner of Ferndale, Wash., was charged on Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California with a number of federal offenses including deliberately sinking a vessel, making a false statement to the Coast Guard and releasing a harmful quantity of oil into the Pacific Ocean. The defendant owned the fishing vessel "Junior." The indictment alleges that Artuner willfully caused the destruction of the Junior on March 29, 2003, approximately three miles southwest of the Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard, Calif. As a result of the sinking of the boat, oil and pollution (trash and debris) were discharged into the ocean, allegedly violating the Clean Water Act. Artuner is further alleged to have falsely told the Coast Guard that someone was aboard the Junior when it sank. This caused the Coast Guard to launch a search and rescue mission, which the indictment alleges was unnecessary because no one was on the boat. Releasing pollution into the ocean can harm fish and other aquatic life, and calling in false reports can endanger emergency response personnel. The case was investigated by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Los Angeles Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.