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Clayton man admits scheme to defraud area businesses

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A Clayton man already facing up to 27 years in federal prison for pretending to be a licensed commercial ship pilot admitted Tuesday in Jefferson County Court that he defrauded several local businesses.

Mark J. Anselm, 37, pleaded guilty to first-degree scheme to defraud and fourth-degree grand larceny.

He admitted that on April 3 he stole more than $1,000 worth of goods and services from Charles Garlock & Sons, Alexandria Bay, and that on March 15, he also unlawfully obtained merchandise and services from businesses in the towns of Clayton, Cape Vincent and Watertown, as well as in the city of Watertown.

At the time of his arrest, state police alleged that he wrote a bad check for $1,200 to Charles Garlock & Sons and that he wrote checks to numerous businesses on a closed account. He is expected to be sentenced April 7 to 113 to 4 years in prison and be ordered to pay $14,700 in restitution in that matter.

The sentence will run concurrently with one he is expected to receive March 28 in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, after guilty pleas 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 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 that on numerous instances Mr. Anselm held himself out as a licensed merchant marine captain based upon licenses he forged, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a prepared statement.

He faces a maximum term of 27 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million in that matter.

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