Crime

He used merchant marine credentials he didn’t earn to apply for a job, indictment says

A Pascagoula mariner’s job application has landed him in trouble with the federal government.

A grand jury indicted Luis Adrover Lagares on Tuesday, accusing him of using Coast Guard credentials for a merchant marine chief engineer to apply for a chief engineer job in Moss Point.

Merchant mariners are involved in the shipping of goods in and out of U.S. waters. In war time, they can be called to duty by the Navy.

The Coast Guard issues several types of merchant marine licensing credentials, including a passport-like book for U.S. citizens who work on large ships. Also, most states honor merchant marine licenses instead of requiring a state license.

A chief engineering license is awarded to those in charge of an engineering department on a merchant vessel. In many jurisdictions, the chief engineer is equal in rank to the captain.

A license had been issued to him erroneously, and he used it Feb. 13 while applying for the job, the indictment said. The document did not say how Lagares obtained the credentials.

Larages is charged with violating a federal law that prohibits the misuse of merchant marine documents. The charge carries maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Lagares pleaded not guilty Tuesday after the indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court, Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain and Special Agent in Charge Brian Jeanfreau of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service said in a press release.

Investigating and prosecuting the misuse of merchant marine credentials will “help ensure the operation of vessels on our waters is conducted safely, and only by qualified seaman,” Jeanfreau said in a news release.

Lagares is free on an unsecured $25,000 bond and set for trial on a court calendar that starts Oct. 2.

Defendants in federal court typically are asked to surrender their passports. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Gargiulo allowed Lagares to keep his passport for job-related purposes pending trial, a court paper said.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

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