EHT Man Admits Faking Disappearance, Causing a False Distress Call, Bank Fraud
A man from Egg Harbor Township, who faked his disappearance in a staged boating accident in 2014 to avoid prosecution, has admitted to sending a false distress call to the Coast Guard and submitting fraudulent information for a loan.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig says 51-year-old Andrew Biddle pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of bank fraud and one count of causing the U.S. Coast Guard to render unnecessary aid.
According to Honig's office, in the summer of 2014, Biddle submitted documents to a credit union to secure a loan for $55,000; he listed a boat as collateral for the loan and provided a fraudulent appraisal for that vessel. Biddle also falsely listed his gross earnings as owner of Professional Boat, a document that falsely inflated the net income for Professional Boat, and a fake income tax return. Based on that incorrect information, Biddle received the loan in the full requested amount.
Between February and July, 2014, the Egg Harbor Township Police Department filed theft charges against Biddle.
Biddle admitted that on July 20, 2014, he and a passenger took a boat out of a marina in Northfield, sailed across Great Egg Harbor Inlet to a restaurant in Somers Point, and the two finalized a scheme over dinner to fake Biddle’s disappearance all as a way to avoid prosecution.
After dinner, Biddle and his passenger traveled back to the marina by boat. The passenger dropped Biddle off between two piers so that he could be picked up by another individual and driven out of the area. The passenger then continued back to Seaville Marina and he intentionally hit a navigational marker in Great Egg Harbor Inlet near Longport. The collision caused the passenger to be ejected from the boat.
That accident caused someone to call 911 and the U.S. Coast Guard, the New Jersey State Police, and Longport Fire & Rescue responded to the area to search for Biddle. The search lasted for two days, however, Biddle has admitted that while crews were looking for him, he was in Florida.
Biddle turned himself in on February 12, 2015.
The count of bank fraud carries up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The charge of a false distress call to the Coast Guard carries a fine of up to six years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing is scheduled for October 18th.