May 25 Coast Guard Press Release: Tugboat Captain Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced, May 16, 2007, that Gary O. Burnham, 52, of Michigan City, Ind., was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison for operating as a ship's captain on a forged license, neglect of duty by a seaman resulting in the sinking of the M/V Margaret Ann, and negligently causing a diesel fuel spill in Lake Michigan. He was also ordered to pay $750,000 in restitution to Holly Marine Towing, the owner of the vessel that sank in Lake Michigan under Burnham's command.

The sinking of the Margaret Ann caused a 250 gallon diesel spill in navigable waters.

Commander Paul Mehler, III, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago "expects that this will send an important message to the entire marine community." The privilege to operate and maintain a vessel, whether commercial or recreational, should be taken very seriously by the licensed mariner. The Coast Guard will continue to remain vigilant and ensure the safety of the general public and the environment.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service - Chicago Office, and was prosecuted by the Asst. U.S. Attorney Donald J. Schmid. For further questions and inquiries, please contact the Marine Safety Unit Chicago Public Affairs Officer at (630) 986-2155.