Seneca County man indicted for defrauding the Coast Guard


Date: September 16, 2020


Buffalo, N.Y. - A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Dennis Daniels, of Romulus, NY, with two counts of mail fraud. The charges carry a maximum of penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

According to the indictment, in January and February 2019, the defendant taught an approved U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) course for an Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel license, with a Masters upgrade. Once obtained, this license allows the individual to operate an uninspected vessel of up to six passengers, such as a fishing charter, and an inspected vessel with more than six passengers, such as a ferry.

Throughout the course, Daniels was required to teach for 80 hours, however, he only taught for 51 hours, and engaged in conduct not in compliance with USCG regulations. After reviewing the defendant's records, it was determined that all 24 students in the course failed a chart-plotting test, and four of the students also failed the maritime rules of the road test. Students are required successfully to pass those tests in order to obtain a course completion certificate, a prerequisite to applying for a Merchant Marine Credential issued by the USCG. Despite failing the tests, Daniels issued course completion certificates to his students.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Jonathan D. Larsen, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Office; the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, under the direction of Buffalo, NY, Resident Agent-in-Charge Cindy C. Buckley, and Detroit, MI, Resident Agent-in-Charge Edward L. Songer; and the United States Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector-in-Charge Joseph W. Cronin of the Boston Division. 

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.