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Clayton man faces up to 27 years in prison for impersonating shipping pilot

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A Clayton man faces up to 27 years in federal prison after admitting Friday in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, that he pretended to be a licensed commercial ship pilot when he possessed no such license.

Mark J. Anselm, 37, pleaded guilty to six felony offenses that charged him with making false statements to officials of the U.S. Coast Guard, possession and use of an altered merchant marine license and aggravated identity theft.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Mr. Anselm admitted that during 2011 and 2012 he represented himself to federal officials, to various marina owners and to other potential employers as being a licensed commercial ship pilot when he was not. He admitted to having repeatedly presented fraudulent merchant marine licenses to employers and potential employers that he had altered to substitute his name.

With his false licenses, he gained employment and operated various ships on Lake Ontario. His criminal conduct was discovered by the Coast Guard after he grounded a commercial tugboat, the Ronald J. Dahlke, in Canadian waters on June 19, 2012. The ensuing investigation revealed numerous instances of Mr. Anselm holding himself out as a licensed commercial merchant marine captain based upon licenses he forged, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a prepared statement.

He is due to be sentenced March 28 in Syracuse. He faces a maximum term of 27 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million on that matter.

Mr. Anselm, who also lists a Hilton, Monroe County, address, has a fourth-degree grand larceny charge pending against him in Jefferson County Court. In that matter, state police allege that he wrote a bad $1,200 check to Charles Garlock & Sons, 15 Washington St., Alexandria Bay, on April 29. He was ordered held at the Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building on $30,000 bail in that matter. He also was ordered held without bail Thursday by Cape Vincent Town Court on several grand larceny counts.

In that matter, state police said, Mr. Anselm wrote $2,500 in bad checks on a closed account with Gouverneur Savings Bank to an unidentified person and to Staples and the AAA office in Watertown. Also, an arrest warrant has been issued for him in federal court.

According to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website, he was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison in 1999 after a second-degree attempted forgery conviction in Wayne County. He was released under parole supervision in January 2000. In 2002, he was sentenced to four to eight years in prison after convictions in Monroe County for grand larceny and criminal possession of a forged instrument. He was released to parole in April 2008.

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