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Polk County Man Guilty in Fake Merchant Marine License Case

BEAUMONT, Texas – A 65-year-old Livingston, Texas man has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

Marshall Carroll Cupps pleaded guilty to making a false statement today before U.S.  District Judge Marcia Crone.

According to information presented in court, on Sep. 14, 2011, Cupps was aboard the Rachelle Marie, an uninspected towing vessel, pushing a barge near Beaumont, Texas, when the Rachelle Marie was waked by a passing ship.  As a result of the waking incident, U.S. Coast Guard officers boarded the Rachel Marie as part of a routine safety inspection.  During the inspection, it was discovered that Cupps did not have a valid Merchant Marine Officer License (MML) as required by federal law.  Cupps did produce a photocopy of a MML at the time of the incident.  Further investigation revealed Cupps’ MML had expired in February 1998 and the photocopy was fraudulent.  Cupps was indicted by a federal grand jury on Nov. 16, 2011.

"Operating without a license poses a significant threat to safe navigation and the boating public.  I hope this case will serve as a deterrent to others who attempt to undermine the system.  The Coast Guard remains steadfast in our resolve to protect our waterways and the lives of those who sail upon them.  I am grateful for the hard work and dedication of the Department of Justice and the Coast Guard investigators for bringing this case to proper resolution," said Rear Adm. Roy A. Nash, Eighth District Coast Guard Commander.

Cupps faces up to 5 years in federal prison at sentencing.  A sentencing date has not been set.

              This case is being investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph R. Batte.

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