US citizen Larry Yacubian, a former small business owner, father, husband who plyed the ocean as a scallop boat Captain owner/ operator to earn his living began 14 years of Hell during the Clinton Administration.
Yacubian, and many fishermen have been wronged, in his case, those wrongs have spanned three presidential administrations.
The suit was filed after the Commerce Department allowed the clock to run out on the former Westport fisherman's $15 million administrative claim filed six months ago, thereby dismissing it.
It's the latest chapter in a legal saga that has left Yacubian — for allegedly fishingin a closed area and making a false statement — forbidden from commercial fishing anywhere, without a boat, and without the Westport farmhouse that was in his wife's family for generations.
Yacubian'scase is at the center of the continuing saga of the well-documented renegade prosecution in the Northeast Regional Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Yacubian'splight has gradually unfolded in public over the past two or three years, culminatingin a Commerce Department's special master declaring in 2011 that Yacubian had been punished all out of proportion to any offense he may have committed.
The destruction shows the contempt of this administration regarding justice and integrity towards working people and the law.
"I was banished to the gulag. I couldn't work again in a profession that I had been in for years," Yacubian told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.
Yacubian's case was hailed at the time as the first successful prosecution of a fisherman based solely on the then-new Boattrax system. (Boattrax is the first satellite-based tracking system, following boats via transponders fitted to each one.)
Yacubian's attorney, Pamela Lafreniere, of New Bedford, had asked an inspectional officer to document with photos the locations of two fishing boats in New Bedford Harbor versus where Boattrax said they were. Boattrax was off by 1.5 miles. But the court never heard that, says the suit.
In response, Captain Yacubian requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and began to marshal evidence in his defense. A key issue in the case was the reliability of plotting data from a system known as Boatracs, which was used to track Captain Yacubian in the restricted area. Seeking to prove that the system was unreliable, Captain Yacubian's counsel asked Massachusetts Environmental Police Officer, Captain Peter Hanlon, to take pictures of two vessels, the Theresa R II (which had no engine) and the Kathy Marie, both of which were secured to the north end of the State Pier in New Bedford, Massachusetts, but were plotted by Boatracs at a point that was 1.5 miles from their actual location.
But Officer Hanlon never testified in Captain Yacubian's case because, according to the Swartwood Report, the Special Agent in Charge at NOAA "put enough pressure on Captain Hanlon to request that he be excused from testifying." Had Captain Hanlon testified, his "testimony and documentation could have challenged [the reliability of the Boatracs systems.]" Without this testimony, Captain Yacubian lost his case before the ALJ.
A series of appeals culminated for Captain Yacubian in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. There, Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton vacated the ALJ's finding of a false statement by Captain Yacubian due to a lack of evidence and vacated all penalties assessed as excessive. The case was remanded to NOAA, where a new ALJ, Parlen McKenna, reinstated the false statements charge, "completely ignor[ing] the District Court Judgment," according to Special Master Swartwood. ALJ McKenna, one month later, attended a workshop in Kuala Lumpur with the NOAA prosecuting attorneys, Charles Juliand and Mitch MacDonald. According to Special Master Swartwood, this "presented an actual conflict of interest," or, at the least, "created the appearance of a conflict."
In order to pay his mounting legal fees, Captain Yacubian attempted to sell his boat. But NOAA Enforcement Attorney Charles Juliand repeatedly blocked the sale. Ultimately, Captain Yacubian's wife was instead forced to sell her family farm in Westport, Massachusetts - a farm that had been in her family for generations. But even this was not enough. Captain Yacubian could not have his case heard in Federal court again until he repeated the same legal battles before NOAA, incurring the same legal fees.
The Obama Administration claimed it would be the most transparent ever, and this is one more example of empty promises made by Dr. Lubchencos announcement of transparency, which is as clear as a concrete wall.
The failure of the current NOAA administrator is a continuance of the constant breakdown of justice and integrity, and oversite are basic principles that have shamlessly been abandoned for well over a decade and beyond.
“There’s a common thread from my case to cases from Maine to North Carolina and down to Florida,” said Yacubian in a telephone interview. “It was like watching a Punch and Judy show. We saw what was happening to us, but we didn’t know what was happening behind the curtain.”
Yacubian said the report on his case by Special Master Charles B. Swartwood III brought to light the lure of money to NOAAagents and litigators, servingas a motive for making cases and demanding excessive settlements of regulatory violations, facts brought to light by the inspector general for Commerce Department, which oversees NOAA.
“In my case, (Swartwood) concluded the case was mostly about money,” Yacubian said. Gary Locke, then the Commerce secretary, now ambassador to China, and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco “were kicking and screamingto avoid” releasing Swartwood’s report which finally was published, heavily redacted, in May 2011, he added.
“Nothing has changed. Their bread and butter is not beingaccountable for anything, which is the reason we filed this suit,” Yacubian concluded
Mr. Yacubian was denied the right to defend his family's economic well being by a corrupt system designed and implimented to generate money by those in the system that those moneys would benefit.
This is protecting the citizens resource?
This is using that premise for financial gain of perks, bonuses, awards, rewards, exotic travel, and toys, while being fairly compensated with excellent pay and benefits, as the NWSEO complained about how unfair life is for them regarding the use of AFF funds!
Not to be overlooked and forgotten, the Special Master being tampered with by the Joseph Ingolia, then Chief Justice of the U.S. Coast Guard Administrative Law Judge System.
"I don't think that anybody has to be damaged by this," Ingoliais reported to have said. "You took testimony about facts, you carried out your duties with respect to what you were asked to do — used testimony — that testimony is wrong — you can come out with something, re-evaluate with new information, and with the respect to Coast Guard ALJ(administrative law judges), you say what you want by way of correction — if that happens, it aligns everything .... "
Yacubian, and many fishermen have been wronged, in his case, beginning during the Clinton Administration while the wrongs have spanned three presidential administrations.
The agents and litigators who ruined Yacubian’s fishing business and life in New Bedford were based in the NOAA’s Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester. Since the first Swartwood report, they have all been transferred, but according to private briefings by Commerce for U.S. Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown who demanded them, no figure involved in the scandal has been fired or punished.
“It is an embarrassment to the U.S. government that Larry Yacubian has to return to the legal system to receive fair compensation,” said Congressman Barney Frank, whose district includes the port of New Bedford.
“Larry Yacubian lost his home and business because NOAA abused their power and was more motivated by money than justice,” said U.S. Sen. Scott Brown. “NOAA’s outrageous conduct in this case continues today with Dr. Lubchenco’s refusal to release all relevant information about NOAA’s actions against Mr. Yacubian.”
The first step toward righting the unjust fines and penalties incurred by Massachusetts fishermen at the hands of poor leadership by the Commerce Department was the remittance of those penalties to some of the businesses and fishermen, such as Capt. Yacubian, who were treated unlawfully,” said Congressman Bill Keating, whose district includes the small ports along Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod. “It is unacceptable that, over one year later, many of these same individuals are still fighting for restitution.”
The "Hope and Change" panacea that so many believed was going to bring justice to the masses, turned out to be fairy dust promises.
The only hope and change we can believe in is the termination of stonewalling/ consolidating Jane Lubchenco, as she is incapable of managing NOAA with any positive effect, or is capable of bringing about the changes she promised when the first field hearing was held in Gloucester, only to build more alliances with stake holders in the enforcement branches of other government agencies, while ignoring fishermen through non inclusion.
There was hope for the fishing industry pre Lubchenco, but the industry is in regulatory free fall because of the mistrust that has become increasingly polarized as a result of a 180 degree assessment flip and the avoidance of important issues under Dr. Lubcheco's tenure.
John Kerry's assurance that Jane Lubchenco was the fishermen's friend could be no further from truth, and if he is to be held in that capacity, the fishermens friend, he will pull out all the stops to prove to New Englands fishermen, and Larry Yacubian, that there is justice by holding Lubchenco, Jones, and those implicated in the Honorable Charles Swartwood's reports, accountable.
Larry Yacubian deserves every dime in that $15 million dollar law suit, and it still ain't enough.
ABOLISH CATCH SHARES NOW!
Letter from Senator John Kerry to NOAA inquiring about second Swartwood report
Letter from Sen. Scott Brown to Sec. of Commerce Bryson inquiring about second Swartwood report
Letter from Senator Scott Brown to Acting Secretary of Commerce Blank inquiring about second Swartwood report