CONCORD — A fishing boat captain from Ossipee was fined $2,500 and put on probation for 18 months this week for providing false fishing logs to state Fish and Game officials to fraudulently obtain fishery disaster-relief funds.
Dave Bardzik, 56, of Ossipee, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Concord for making a false statement in an effort to obtain fishery disaster relief funds, U.S. Attorney Scott Murray announced Tuesday.
In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Atlantic coast of the U.S., causing widespread property damage and substantial impacts on the New England fishing industry. The federal government declared a fishery disaster, and Congress approved fishery disaster relief funds.
Operators of both commercial and “for hire” vessels in New Hampshire were provided information about how to apply for a share of those funds. To qualify for funds, “for hire” vessels like the one operated by Bardzik — the sport fishing boat Ultimate Catch, operating out of Portsmouth — were required to have taken at least 15 trips in three of the prior four years where at least one New England groundfish species was harvested.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Bardzik submitted several false records to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department in June 2015 in an attempt to qualify for the funds. Investigators noted discrepancies between the June 2015 submission and prior records Bardzik completed in 2013.
When confronted by investigators, Bardzik admitted to creating the false records because otherwise he would not have qualified for funds.
Bardzik pleaded guilty on October, 30, 2018.
“When the federal government spends money for disaster relief, the funds should only go to those who have been true victims of the disaster,” said Murray in a statement. “Those who seek to cheat the system should understand that there will be substantial consequences for their criminal conduct.”
“This is a real win for the commercial fisherman of New Hampshire,” said Lt. Michael Eastman, District Chief of the Seacoast region for New Hampshire Fish and Game, in a statement.