BOSTON – A South Portland man working as a Massachusetts fishing boat captain has pleaded guilty to interfering with a U.S. Coast Guard inspection.

Prosecutors say 57-year-old Thomas Simpson pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to destruction or removal of property subject to inspection.

Prosecutors say Simpson, of South Portland, Maine, was the captain of a New Bedford commercial fishing boat in 2014 when he dumped a fishing net into the ocean in defiance of Coast Guard commands to haul it in.

A salvage company later retrieved the net and found it was in violation of commercial fishing regulations.

The vessel was one of several owned by Carlos Rafael, known as “the Codfather,” who was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for violating several fishing regulations.

Simpson faces up to five years in prison at sentencing.

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