Feds Charge Second Bristol County Sheriff’s Office Member in ‘Codfather’ Scheme
BOSTON - A Captain with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office was arrested and charged Wednesday in connection with helping Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S., smuggle the profits of his illegal overfishing scheme to Portugal.
James Melo, 45, of North Dartmouth, Mass., was charged with one count each of bulk cash smuggling, structuring and conspiracy. He was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond following his appearance in federal court in Boston late Wednesday afternoon.
In May 2015, federal agents began an undercover operation targeting Carlos Rafael, the owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the U.S. In the fall of 2015, undercover agents, posing as potential buyers of Rafael’s business, met with Rafael to negotiate buying his fishing business. Rafael told the agents that he hid the cash proceeds of his illegal fishing sales, in part, by smuggling the money to Portugal. Rafael said that he sometimes took the money himself, but also used the services of others, and referred to knowing several members of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, including Melo, whom he described as, “the captain at the prison.”
On Nov. 10, 2015, agents conducting surveillance as Logan Airport saw Melo and Rafael arrive in a white car, marked as belonging to the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, for a flight to Portugal. Melo completed TSA screening without incident, but Rafael was found in possession of $27,000, for which he completed a financial affidavit. Several other acquaintances of Rafael and Melo were also on the flight and, allegedly coordinated by Melo, helped Rafael smuggle an additional $50,000 in cash to Portugal. It is further alleged that before the flight, Melo distributed envelopes of cash to these acquaintances, each of whom took an envelope on the flight and returned it to Melo or Rafael after landing in Portugal. Two days later, on Nov. 13, 2015, Portuguese bank records indicate that $76,000 in U.S. currency was deposited into a Banif Bank account in Rafael’s name.
The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of bulk cash smuggling provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of structuring carries a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
-U.S. Attorney's Office
Antonio Freitas, a former Bristol County Sheriff's Deputy, has also been charged in the scheme.