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Captain accused of deliberately sinking $1.86 million yacht

A Miami boat captain was arrested this week for first-degree grand theft for stealing a $1.86 million yacht from a Key Biscayne dock and then sinking it off the Bahamas three years ago, state authorities said.

Robert Figueredo, 49, of Miami was arrested this week by detectives from the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud and was booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail, authorities said.

The 80-foot yacht Star One was discovered scuttled in a part of the Atlantic known as the “Tongue of the Ocean” offshore from the Bahamas on May 3, 2009. It was reported stolen from Key Biscayne the next day, according to authorities.

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“There is no such thing as a victimless crime,” Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said as he announced Figueredo’s arrest Thursday. “Those who reap the spoils of perpetuating fraud victimize every Florida consumer. Those who cheat their fellow Floridians out of their hard-earned dollars will be captured and put behind bars.”

The ship’s owner said it had been taken from its dock at his Key Biscayne home and filed a claim with the Federated Insurance Company for the loss, the arrest affidavit against Figueredo says.

Figueredo’s ex-girlfriend told police that he had bragged to her that he sunk the boat deliberately, but he told the insurance company that he had no knowledge of the theft of the Star One, authorities said.

However, a witness told an investigator that Figueredo offered to pay him if he would pick him up in the Bahamas and bring him back to Miami, with Figueredo saying “that he was taking the Star One to the Bahamas so a potential buyer could look (at) it,” the affidavit says.

On May 3, 2009, the witness took his boss’s vessel and followed the Star One, stopping to fish along the way. When he caught up to the Star One, Figueredo and another man were on board as it was taking on water, but Figueredo told him not to make a mayday call “and to get out of there,” according to the affidavit.

The witness was furious that Figueredo would involve him and his boss’s boat in the crime and said that “no one said a word all the way back to Miami,” the affidavit says.

Figueredo did not receive any payment from the insurance company, Atwater’s press secretary, Anna A. Alexopoulos, said.

When asked if there are any other targets in the investigation, Alexopoulos said, "The investigation is still ongoing and as such, can only confirm details in the press release and the affidavit."

If convicted, Figueredo faces up to 30 years in prison.

The Department of Financial Services, which Atwater oversees, asked anyone with information on this case or other suspected insurance frauds to call 1-800-378-0445. The department’s anti-fraud reward program can provide people up to $25,000 for information that leads directly to an arrest and conviction for an insurance fraud scheme.

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