Published on October 4th, 2016 | by The Kitsap Scene0
Court Orders $45K in Restitution Over Sunken Ship in Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor
The former owner of a sunken tugboat owes more than $44,000 on restitution to the state, according to a Kitsap County judge’s order on Monday.
The state attorney general’s office issued a press release on the ruling, presented here in its entirety:
At a hearing today in Kitsap County Superior Court, a judge ordered the former owner of the sunken tugboat Chickamauga to pay more than $44,000 in restitution to the state departments of Ecology and Natural Resources.
The case, prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Unit, stemmed from the sinking of the tugboat in 2013, which released between 200 and 300 gallons of diesel fuel into Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor.
The former owner, Anthony Smith, pled guilty in July to charges of causing a vessel to become abandoned or derelict, a misdemeanor, and discharging polluting matter into state waters, a gross misdemeanor. As part of the plea agreement, Smith served 20 days in home confinement and will spend two years on probation.
In exchange for Smith’s guilty plea, AGO prosecutors agreed to dismiss first-degree theft charges related to his failure to pay moorage fees for more than six months.
At today’s hearing, Judge Jennifer Forbes ordered Smith to pay a total of $44,616 in restitution — $42,338 to the state Department of Natural Resources for raising and removing the Chickamauga from Eagle Harbor, and $2,278 to the Department of Ecology for diesel fuel cleanup.
“If you damage our environment, you will be held accountable,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Derelict vessels are a serious threat to our waterways, and the damage they cause has a cost, both ecologically and financially.”
“Sadly, the boat sinking and spill were preventable,” said Dale Jensen, Ecology’s Spills Program manager. “Mr. Smith chose to neglect his vessel, and ended up causing a significant spill. Our spill responders, along with the Coast Guard and Department of Natural Resources, responded and worked hard to clean up the mess.”
Ferguson has made prosecuting environmental crimes a priority of his administration. This is the third derelict vessel case the Attorney General’s Office has filed since 2014, with all three cases resulting in convictions.
The Attorney General’s Office handled the case at the request of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office. The lead prosecutor was Assistant Attorney General Joshua Choate.
Featured Image: The tugboat Chickamauga, moored in Ballard, Seattle. (Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons)