The former first mate of North Star, which operated fishing charters out of Captree Boat Basin, admitted in federal court Tuesday to helping to deliberately sink the vessel in off Long Island’s coast in 2018.
The guilty plea of Thomas Jordan, 57, of Brentwood, followed an indictment last year charging him and the vessel’s owner with crimes that included destroying North Star, conspiring to do so and lying to Coast Guard investigators about it.
Jordan and vessel owner Timothy Juettner, 53, allegedly sank the fishing vessel because it needed major repairs Juettner couldn’t afford, sources previously told Newsday.
On Oct. 8, 2018, the vessel went down in the Atlantic Ocean within 12 nautical miles of the coast, according to the 2020 indictment.
The ex-first mate told Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson on Tuesday while pleading guilty to one count of the indictment that he and another defendant worked together to destroy the vessel and he was at the scene when it sank.
The crime also involved using a second vessel as a towing aid, according to Jordan's admissions. He later declined to comment after leaving the Central Islip courtroom.
"He’s genuinely remorseful. He wants to put it behind him. This is the first step," said his attorney, Michael Alber.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Farrell said before Jordan’s plea that if the case against him went to trial, some of the evidence the government would present included text messages between the defendants about the intended destruction of the vessel, along with photos of pieces of the wreck washing up on the shore.
Tomlinson told Jordan he faced a maximum of 20 years in prison, a minimum of no prison time and a maximum fine of $250,000. She also pointed out his plea agreement said he wouldn’t be able to challenge his sentence or conviction if he got 16 months or less in prison.
The plea agreement describes the sentencing guidelines for Jordan as being within a range of from 10 to 16 months of imprisonment, but Tomlinson also said the sentencing judge didn’t have to stick to it.
Court records show Jordan and Juettner pleaded not guilty in November before a magistrate judge allowed their releases on $50,000 bonds.
Juettner’s case remains pending, authorities said Tuesday.
A federal prosecutor disclosed in a December court hearing that the government had offered plea deals to both defendants.
The charges against Jordan had included that he made false statements in July 2019 to Coast Guard special agents that he and Juettner were the only people present when North Star sank and that the two didn’t intentionally destroy the vessel.
But Jordan knew at least two other people were there when the crime occurred, the indictment alleged.
The defendants allegedly used a sister charter boat, North Star II, to tow North Star out to sea for its destruction, sources previously told Newsday.