Bennington’s Pontoon and Kayak owners are facing multiple criminal charges and are being held in custody on suspicion of stealing more than $5 million from boats over the past four years.
The former owners of the company that runs the boats, Bennington Boat Club, have admitted to the theft and are facing a felony charge, according to a statement from the Bennington County District Attorney’s Office.
The statement said the indictment was filed in the Benison County District Court on March 16, 2016, on two counts of theft.
The indictment charges that from June 2009 to August 2017, Benison Boat Club failed to pay approximately $3.7 million in taxes and fees to the state, the county and the state of Vermont.
The statement also charges that Bennington Fish and Game officials did not pay taxes and the boats did not meet state water quality standards.
“As soon as the Benion County Sheriff’s Office learned of the alleged criminal conduct, they notified the Department of Revenue and began an investigation,” the statement said.
“Bennington Fish & Game immediately closed the Benson Fishing Club in January 2017 and the Beninsson Kayak Club in March 2017, and the former owners were charged in Bennington District Court for theft.”
In January 2018, the Beninsons pleaded guilty to the charges.
Bennington Boat and Kayaks had more than 300 boats in operation, including one that was a member of the Vermont Recreational Boat Club.
Beninsons boat company was founded in 2011.
The boats were used in recreational fishing for recreational anglers in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
In April 2018, Beninson Boat Club was sold to Bennington Kayak & Boating.
Beninssons boats were not registered to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP).
Beninson Kayaks owner, John Gossett, also pleaded guilty on Feb. 27, 2018 to the felony charge of willful neglect of a boat.
He will be sentenced on March 15.