A professional powerboat racer from Atlantic County has admitted faking his offshore death to avoid bank fraud charges, authorities said.
Andrew Biddle, 45, of Egg Harbor Township allegedly disappeared for more than six months in 2014 after staging a sailboat crash, according to a federal indictment.
Biddle pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig said.
Biddle admitted that he and a passenger took a boat out of Seavillage Marina in Northfield and traveled across Great Egg Harbor Inlet to a restaurant in Somers Point to have dinner, Honig said in a press statement.
The passenger allegedly dropped Biddle off near the marina before intentionally crashing the boat, Honig said.
Before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb, Biddle admitted a false distress call was made to the U.S. Coast Guard in July 2014 to avoid prosecution, Honig said.
While the Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police and Lockport firefighters were searching for him, Biddle said he already had fled to Florida, Honig said.
Biddle is accused of reporting inflated income and assets to secure a $55,000 bank loan in 2014, according to the indictment.
He's also accused of managing a boat sales company that allegedly defrauded customers.
Biddle apparently applied for loans using the alias Christopher A. Biddle II, the indictment says.
After a search of 60 miles of coastline, Egg Township police became skeptical that Biddle and a friend were lost at sea.
Biddle turned himself into authorities in Atlantic County on Feb. 12, 2015.
The bank fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, Honig said.
The false U.S. Coast Guard distress call carries a maximum potential penalty of six years in prison and a $250,000 fine, she said.
Biddle is due to be sentenced in October.See Attachment
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