Christopher Garbowsk, 33, accused of conducting illegal charters on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River

An affidavit filed in US District Court in Chicago has led to the arrest of a Michigan man on federal criminal charges of operating an illegal charter operation on Chicago waterways.

Christopher Garbowski, 33, of Sterling Heights, Michigan was arrested on charges of violating an order of the captain of the port.

According to the criminal complaint and marinelog.com, Garbowski used a 40ft vessel known by the names Anchorman, Sea Hawk and Manaje III to conduct illegal commercial charter operations on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, charging money to charter the boat to various groups of passengers. Garbowski conducted the charter operations during the 2017 and 2018 boating seasons even though the vessel had not been inspected and certified by the US Coast Guard, as required by federal regulations, the complaint states.

Garbowski also captained the charters even though he lacked the proper Coast Guard credentials to do so, the charges allege.

The complaint was announced by John Lausch Jr, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, who alleges Garbowski advertised his charter business on websites and apps such as Get My Boat and Boatbound. The Coast Guard notified Garbowski about the federal regulations on multiple occasions, including at Monroe Harbor in Chicago on 19 August 2017, when Coast Guard personnel boarded the boat moments before Garbowski was set to begin a five-hour charter for eight female passengers who booked the Sea Hawk for US$2,400, the complaint states. As the women were walking down the dock to board the boat, Garbowski called one of them on her cell phone and told her to lie to Coast Guard personnel by pretending they were all friends with Garbowski, the complaint states.

The charge in the complaint is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Garbowski made an initial court appearance before US Magistrate Judge Young Kim, who ordered him released on a US$10,000 unsecured bond.