Codfather moved to 'community confinement'

John Sladewski/Standard Times via AP, FileCarlos Rafael, pictured in 2014, at Homer’s Wharf near his herring boat F/V Voyager in New Bedford, was sentenced to prison in 2017 after pleading guilty to evading fishing quotas and smuggling profits overseas. Rafael, a fishing magnate known as The Codfather, has 13 months left to serve.

Convicted New Bedford fishing scofflaw Carlos Rafael has been transferred within the federal Bureau of Prisons to “community confinement” in a move that could be the first step toward his return to society once his sentence is completed.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed on Wednesday that the 68-year-old Rafael, known far and wide as “The Codfather” when he ruled the New Bedford docks with his seafood empire, was transferred on June 24 to community confinement overseen by the bureau’s Residential Reentry Management Office in Philadelphia. He is about 33 months into his 46-month sentence for massive cheating within the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery,

The bureau said community confinement means Rafael either is in home confinement or at a residential reentry center — or halfway house — managed by the Residential Reentry Management Office in Philadelphia. It declined to state specifically where Rafael is.

“Carlos A. Rafael is still serving his sentence,” Emory Nelson, a bureau spokesman, stated in an email response to to the Gloucester Daily Times. “His projected date of release from the custody of the BOP is March 4, 2021.  For privacy, safety, and security reasons, we do not release information on an individual inmate’s conditions of confinement.”

Nelson referred all subsequent questions on the reentry program to the Bureau of Prisons website. “The BOP places appropriate inmates in Residential Reentry Centers prior to release to help them adjust to life in the community and find employment,” was the only specific description of the program.

John Markey, Rafael’s New Bedford-based attorney, did not immediately respond Wednesday to requests for comment.

Rafael initially was incarcerated at the federal prison FMC Devens, an administrative security federal medical center and minimum-security jail in central Massachusetts.

He began serving his sentence there on Nov. 4, 2017, after being convicted of falsifying fishing records to exceed fishing quotas, false labeling of groundfish landings, conspiracy, tax evasion and bulk smuggling.

Rafael was arrested by federal agents on Feb. 26, 2016, after federal undercover agents posed as members of the Russian mob interested in buying Rafael’s then-sprawling seafood empire.

In recorded conversations with the undercover agents, Rafael spilled the details of his illegal activities that ultimately led to his arrest and the dissolution of the New Bedford-based Northeast Fishing Sector IX that hosted his vessels.

Rafael, as part of his criminal conviction, also was hit with $300,000 in fines and restitution — including $109,000 to the Internal Revenue Service — as well as three years of supervised release after leaving federal prison.

Under the civil settlement, Rafael must pay more than $3 million in penalties, relinquish the seafood permit issued to his Carlos Seafood business by Sept. 1 and permanently cease all commercial fishing — except for scalloping — by Dec. 31. His scalloping operations, which were not part of his criminal case, must be halted by March 31.

Rafael is barred for life from participating in any commercial fishing operations. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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