Ship owner sentenced in plot to sink boat

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On Aug. 2, 2009, the crew aboard the 75-foot commercial fishing vessel Alexander II recorded in the ship’s log a haul of 50 fish totaling 3,000 pounds.

But on that same day, when the Alexander II began taking on water about 86 miles southeast of Cape May, N.J., and the Coast Guard came to the rescue, there were no fish on board and there was little fuel, ice, food or other supplies essential for a lengthy fishing trip.

The ship’s owner, Scott Tran, 40, was soon charged with hiring a captain and crew to sink the boat and collect a $400,000 policy from his insurance company.

“Once the captain and crew of the Alexander II had succeeded in filling a portion of its interior with seawater, while ignoring the bilge alarms that were sounding, and made no use of the ship’s pumps, which were in good working condition, to clear the ship of water, they sent a distress signal to the U.S. Coast Guard and then abandoned the Alexander II together in a life raft,” reads the Department of Justice indictment.

Tran was sentenced last week to nearly four years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to destroy a vessel.

Tran, a chiropractor, was "very much embarrassed and ashamed about what happened," his lawyer, Earl Kauffman, told the Star-Ledger when reached by phone.

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