CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic County, New Jersey, man today admitted sending a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard and submitting fraudulent information on a loan application, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Andrew Biddle, 51, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb to an indictment charging him with one count of bank fraud and one count of causing the U.S. Coast Guard to render unnecessary aid.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On June 25, 2014, Biddle submitted documents to secure a loan for $55,000 from Southeast Financial Credit Union. Biddle listed as collateral for the loan a boat and provided a fraudulent appraisal document for the boat. Biddle also submitted to Southeast Financial a document that falsely listed his gross earnings as owner of Professional Boat; a document that falsely inflated the net income for Professional Boat; and a fraudulent income tax return. Based on the fraudulent documents Southeast Financial fund the loan and deposit $55,000 into Biddle’s account.
Between February 2014 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 Seavillage Marina in Northfield and traveled across Great Egg Harbor Inlet to a restaurant in Somers Point to have dinner. During dinner, Biddle and the passenger finalized a scheme to fake Biddle’s disappearance. 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. The passenger caused someone to call 911. Based on that call the U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police and Longport fire/rescue responded to the area to search for and try and save Biddle. The U.S. Coast Guard and others searched for Biddle using vessels and helicopters on July 20 and 21, 2014. Biddle admitted that while the Coast Guard was searching for him, he was in Florida.
Biddle admitted that he faked his disappearance in order to avoid prosecution by authorities in Atlantic County, but eventually turned himself into authorities in Atlantic County on Feb. 12, 2015.
The count of bank fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard carries a maximum potential penalty of six years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 18, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and detectives of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Egg Harbor Township Police Department, and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance.
The government is represented by Senior Trial Counsel Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney=s Office Criminal Division in Camden.