Tugboat sank in Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor Marina in 2013
PORT ORCHARD — The former owner of a vessel that sank in Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor in 2013 pleaded guilty today to charges of allowing the vessel to become derelict and polluting state waters.
Anthony Smith’s tugboat, the Chickamauga, sank in Eagle Harbor in October of 2013, releasing between 200 and 300 gallons of diesel fuel into the water. At the time of the vessel’s sinking, Smith had allegedly not paid moorage fees in more than six months.
Smith agreed to plead guilty to two charges: causing a vessel to become abandoned or derelict and discharging polluting matter into state waters. He will spend 20 days in jail or in home confinement, and two years on probation. The AGO will ask for more than $54,000 in restitution to the state departments of Ecology and Natural Resources at a hearing scheduled for Sept. 9 in Kitsap Superior Court.
As part of the plea agreement, AGO prosecutors agreed to dismiss first-degree theft charges related to his failure to pay moorage fees.
“Derelict vessels are very serious pollution threats to our aquatic environment,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “If you break our state laws and pollute our environment, my office will hold you accountable.”
A trial for Smith was set to begin today in Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard. The Attorney General’s Office’s Criminal Litigation Unit handled the case at the request of the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office.
Ferguson has made prosecuting environmental crimes a priority of his administration. This is the third derelict vessel case the Attorney General’s Office has filed since 2014, with all three cases resulting in convictions.
The lead prosecutor is Assistant Attorney General Joshua Choate.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov