Yacht Owner Pleads Guilty of Hiring Unlicensed Captain

8 November 2018

During an illegal charter on 91-foot M/Y Miami Vice on April 1, 2018, passenger Raul Menendez was killed by the boat’s propellers when Mauricio Alvarez, who was operating the vessel, reversed. Alvarez was operating the vessel around Biscayne Bay without a U.S. Coast Guard license to captain charters with passengers.  

Following the incident, Alvarez and Miami Vice owner Laurent Marc-Antoine Jean Maubert-Cayla were arrested and charged with misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual.

Maubert-Cayla pleaded guilty on November 5 in federal court to misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual, The Miami Herald reports. He will be sentenced on January 10, 2019. Alvarez will be sentenced on November 28 after pleading guilty on August 28.

Despite knowing Alvarez didn’t have the proper license and wasn’t insured for charter operations, Maubert-Cayla hired him as the vessel’s charter captain in November 2017. On March 18, Alvarez and TM Yachting Charter got citations for operating a commercial charter without a U.S. Coast Guard license.

The statement of facts said that Maubert-Cayla occasionally socialized with Alvarez and learned that Alvarez was a heavy drinker who used cocaine. On April 1, Menendez and a friend chartered Miami Vice, but when they got to the Sea Isle Marine, the yacht was dirty and not suitable for charter.

However, Maubert-Cayla said they would lose their $2,000 deposit if they didn’t pay the remaining $1,000 as planned and canceled the reservation. They paid the remaining fee and left with Alvarez and his son as first mate. Alvarez beached the vessel at Monument Island, and the passengers swam in the water behind the boat.

When Alvarez put the boat into reverse, it appeared that no one had checked to make sure that all passengers were on board nor did Alvarez announce the departure, and Menendez got pulled into the propellers.

UPDATE: 12/3/2018
Mauricio Alvarez was sentenced to a total of 33 months in prison for misconduct or neglect of a ship officer that resulted in the death of an individual on November 28, local ABC affiliate Local 10 reports. He faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the fatal incident that occurred on April 1.