- November 10, 2022
A federal jury has convicted the former president of a yacht charter firm of obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard investigation into the drowning of two people in 2017.
The Tampa jury found Patrick Dines, 74, guilty of approaching a passenger after two people on a charter had gone missing and asked one “to pretend to be a crew member in order to mislead Coast Guard investigators.”
The St. Petersburg man faces five years in federal prison.
According to a statement from the U.S. State Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida here’s what happened:
Dines was president of the charter boat company FYC Yachts in St. Petersburg in August 2016 when the Coast Guard began investigating reports of overcrowding on the company’s charter, a violation of federal safety laws.
Officers met with Dines to discuss the reports and the company’s operations. He assured the investigator that the company “was operating in compliance with the law.”
Several months later, on March 14, 2017, prosecutors say “an overcrowded FYC-chartered yacht” set sail from Maximo Marina in St. Petersburg. The Jaguar, the boat’s name, sailed to the Pass-a-Grille Channel where it anchored so passengers could jump in the water for a swim.
Currents were strong that day and the swimmers were quickly pulled away from the boat.
Two of the swimmers couldn’t make it back to the Jaguar. Several passengers assisted one of the them, and a crew member, the only one onboard other than the captain, jumped into the water to help the second swimmer.
The current was too strong, though.
Both the crew member and the swimmer were swept out to sea. Search and rescue efforts by the Coast Guard, state and local agencies and the Jaguar were unsuccessful. (The U.S. Attorney’s office does not say if the bodies were ever recovered.)
A 2017 Tampa Bay Times report identifies the two men who drowned as Jie Luo, a 21-year-old student from Colorado State University, and Andrew Dillman, a 27-year-old crew member.
When the Jaguar returned to the marina later that evening, prosecutors say Dines approached the passengers and “encouraged one of them” to lie to Coast Guard investigators by pretending to be part of the crew. He also tried to get other passengers to sign a contract to “absolve himself of any responsibility for the incident.”
The passengers refused. And, it turns out, the contract he presented had the boat’s name, time of voyage and number of passengers wrong.
Dines was indicted in March. A sentencing date has not been set.
A website for FYC Yachts was not active Dec. 13 and the company’s Yelp profile says it has closed. Its last post on Instagram was March 9, 2017, five days before the drownings.
A LinkedIn profile for Dines says he is CEO of IYB1 Inc. A listing on Florida’s Division of Corporations website lists a St. Petersburg address for the company.
IYB1 did not respond to a request for comment through its website. Messaging on Dines’ LinkedIn page is disabled.