A boat owner from Sterling Heights, Michigan, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for running an illegal charter operation on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Christopher Mike Garbowski operated the illegal charter on the “Sea Hawk” or “Anchorman” motorboat at various locations, including Chicago’s “The Playpen” area. He charged groups of passengers for his services, including bachelorette parties, despite lacking the necessary boating licences and US Coast Guard certification for his vessel. Despite receiving multiple warnings, Garbowski continued his illegal activities.
Coast Guard personnel boarded Garbowski’s boat in 2017 before he was about to depart for a five-hour charter flight with eight female passengers to Monroe Harbor in Chicago. In an attempt to deceive authorities, Garbowski instructed one of the passengers to pose as a friend and lie to the Coast Guard. He also repeatedly denied operating a commercial charter service when questioned by Coast Guard officials. Garbowski pleaded guilty to a felony charge of violating an order from the port captain earlier this year. US District Judge Thomas M. Durkin imposed the sentence of one year and one day.
The verdict highlights that Coast Guard regulations are designed to ensure the safety of passengers, crew, and other vessels and persons using the waterways. The case serves as a reminder that authorities remain vigilant in enforcing maritime laws and regulations to protect the welfare of people navigating the waterways.