NRP Wins Abandoned Boat Court Case
A Germantown man convicted of abandoning a houseboat in the waters near historic Mount Vernon was jailed today after a district court judge found he ignored orders to remove the Potomac River eyesore.
Andre Tyrone Leonard, 37, was found in violation of the terms of his probation and was ordered to serve 30 days in the Prince George’s County Detention Center.
“The court is not satisfied,” Judge G. Richard Collins told Leonard, who offered his apologies. “Your actions are somewhere between foolish and a con man.”
Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) began investigating Leonard in 2010 after citizens complained that the rotting 42-foot vessel was polluting the river and spoiling the view from George Washington’s homestead.
Leonard was found guilty in August 2012 of abandoning the boat, which was aground in Maryland waters south of Fort Washington. He was ordered to remove the vessel and make restitution to the State of Maryland.
Through last spring and into summer, Leonard tried to sell the 40-year-old boat on eBay and Craigslist before offering it to charity.
With his one-year probation nearing an end in July, Leonard hired a man being sought on a bench warrant for assault charges to break up the boat with a chainsaw. Neighbors told police they feared an activity of that magnitude being carried out by an unlicensed contractor would further pollute the water.
“Instead of removing the boat, he reduced it to a heap,” unable to be towed from the site, Prince George’s Assistant State’s Attorney Tom O’Gorman told the judge.
Leonard, a musician, said he raised almost half of the estimated $7,500 cost of removing the hulk by holding fund-raising concerts and asked for an extension to collect the rest.
But O’Gorman said that while he supported the concept of second chances, “in order to ask for mercy, you have to show you’re sorry beyond being sorry you got caught.” He asked the judge to reinstate the original six-month jail term.
With the case resolved, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Boating Services unit will post a request for bids from registered marine contractors to remove and dispose of the houseboat. The process from bidding to removal usually takes about two months. The State will receive restitution for the cost.