Embezzlement from the S.S. Badger Car Ferry sends former Finance Minister to Jail

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Paul Patrick Piper, 58, the former S.S. Badger finance director who lives in Ludington, Michigan has been found guilty of embezzling $1.7 million from the company. Piper had been stealing for over 11 years. He was found guilty and sentenced to more than 5 years in prison.

S.S Badger is a United States passenger and vehicle ferry operated on Lake Michigan since 1953. It currently shuttles between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a distance of 62 miles. It is the last coal-fired passenger vessel operating on the Great Lakes, and on January 20, 2016, was designated a National Historic Landmark. During the sailing season, S.S Badger can accommodate 600 passengers and 180 vehicles including; RVs, motorcycles, coaches and commercial trucks. On average, Badger completes a trip across Lake Michigan in about four hours, and rarely misses sailing. To those who want to avoid traffic in Chicago, reduce driving time, (Michigan to Wisconsin) save time/gas, enjoy a boat ride, your option is taking the S.S Badger car ferry. The price for an adult is $72.00. Activities/food onboard appeal to both adults and kids.

SS Badger Car Ferry
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

In 2008, SS Badger came under fire from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and environmental groups due to its daily practise of dumping untreated coal ash from its boilers directly into the Lake Michigan waters. Burning 55 short tonnes (49 long tonnes; 50 t) of coal a day produces 4 short tonnes (3,57 long tonnes; 3,63 tonnes) of ash. Coal ash is a by-product of Badger’s propulsion system.

Badger had previously been the subject of EPA Clean Air action but, due to its historical significance as a coal-fired, steam-powered vessel, was granted an exemption under the legislation. Officials of the company compared coal ash to “harmless sand” and planned to keep S.S. Badger in its original coal-burning design. Work on a conveyor system that will store ash in four containment bins on board began in January 2015. A new combustion control system enables the ship to be more efficient by burning less coal and generating less ash. Badger has been retrofitted to prevent ash from discharging into the lake and was been certified to return to service. Now the ash is offloaded and used to make cement.

For 25 years, Paul Piper worked for Lake Michigan Car Ferry and Pere Marquette Shipping. He also owned Piper Tax & Accounting, as well as another business. He also served as a trustee for the Township of Pere Marquette. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Stella, he said, that while Piper was embezzling, the Car Ferry had to borrow money for the operating costs.

According to reports, Piper’s embezzlement took place not out of necessity, but out of greed, associated with remodelling a home, paying employees at his tax preparation business and starting a coffee shop.

The judge ordered Paul Piper to pay a restitution of $1,740,037.91.



About Author

Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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