Archive for » February 13th, 2015«

SJ boat racer, once feared dead, posts bail

Andrew Biddle, the champion offshore powerboat racer from Egg Harbor Township who emerged this week to face criminal charges after vanishing nearly seven months ago, remained a free man Friday after posting $50,000 bail, his lawyer said.

Biddle, 45, was declared missing last July after a boating accident. Though some who knew him feared he was dead, local authorities soon came to believe he orchestrated the accident so as to avoid fraud charges stemming from the boat-sales company where he worked.

On Thursday he turned himself in at Atlantic County Superior Court after calling his lawyer to arrange the surrender. Mark Roddy, his attorney, said Friday that Biddle worked out an arrangement with a bondsman in order to post bail. Biddle does not have a passport, Roddy said, and will return to court next month to answer the charges against him.

Roddy would not say where Biddle will live while the case proceeds through court. Biddle has children and lived in Egg Harbor with his wife at the time he went missing.

Roddy also said he didn’t know where Biddle has been since last year.

“He didn’t explain it to me, and I didn’t ask him,” Roddy said.

New Jersey State Police Sgt. Jeff Flynn said Friday that the agency was coordinating with local authorities on the case to review whether Biddle may have broken other laws.

Biddle and his partner in business and boating, Tracy Blumenstein, were past winners of the annual P1 Superstock U.S. championship, a series of offshore powerboat races in Florida. In 2013, they won championships stateside as well in the United Kingdom.

They face several charges relating to Blumenstein’s company, Professional Boat Sales, which Biddle helped operate. Complaints accuse the pair of defrauding customers in various ways. Biddle, who has filed for bankruptcy in the past, also has faced criminal charges and legal troubles in and near Huntingdon County, Pa., where he operated Raystown Performance Marine Sales, to which Blumenstein’s family was also connected.

Biddle was declared missing after a speeding pontoon boat he was said to be aboard hit a buoy and crashed into a jetty near the tip of Longport on July 20. A passenger, Justin Belz, swam to shore and said he could not find Biddle.

The Coast Guard conducted an 18-hour search, and Biddle’s uncle also looked for his nephew. Egg Harbor Township Police have said for months that they believed Biddle was alive.

So has Frank Casey, of Douglassville Pa., one of Biddle’s former customers. After suing Biddle over a boat he failed to deliver to them, Casey and his wife were awarded almost $370,000 in 2013. Lawyers were working to have Biddle give them the boat instead, but they never received anything, and the boat involved in the July crash turned out to be theirs.

Casey was not certain what Biddle’s re-emergence could mean for their case, but said he was frustrated that Biddle had been able to evade paying his debts for so many months and years.

“I knew all along he wasn’t dead,” Casey said. “This was just another one of his scams. I knew it was just a matter of him showing his ugly face again.”

asteele@phillynews.com

856-779-3876

@AESteele

 



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New Jersey man accused of staging boat crash surrenders

A man who was indicted on theft charges and then disappeared in a suspicious boating accident has turned up safe and in court.

Andrew Biddle, 45, of Egg Harbor Township, appeared before a judge Thursday in Atlantic County. Biddle and his employer are accused of using Professional Boat Sales, Service and Storage in Egg Harbor Township to deceive people and steal money.

Biddle was reported missing July 20 after he and another man went into the water when their pontoon boat hit a buoy in Longport. His friend swam to shore and called police to say Biddle was missing.

The Coast Guard searched for Biddle, but law enforcement officials said two weeks later that they believed the accident was staged because the disappearance came after Biddle was indicted on three counts of theft by deception and accused of taking boats in trade and reselling them without paying off the loans.

“He recently called me and said he wanted to step up to the plate and take responsibility,” attorney Mark Roddy told The Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/1yvGDwq ). “I told him, if he was serious, to call me when he was back in the area, and I would set something up.

Biddle would not say where he’s been since July, his lawyer said. Roddy believes his client returned because of his wife and children.


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Afloat: Academy gearing up for bumper year

WEYMOUTH Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) is ready for another year of action, with some youth sailors taking to the winter waters of Portland Harbour as early as this month.

The WPNSA has confirmed six national ranking events across the year for Olympic classes, as well as five national championships and a multitude of regional events.

The Royal Yachting Association’s Youth National Championships, one of the most important annual events in a youth sailor’s racing calendar, will be held at the academy for a second consecutive year.

Racing takes place from April 4-10.

In April, high-adrenaline Moth dinghies will cover Portland Harbour when the Moth Grand Prix is held over the weekend of April 18-19.

Developed during the late 1920s in Australia, this design now uses hydrofoils which allows the dinghies to fly over the water.

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) World Cup will also return to Weymouth and Portland in 2015.

Talking about the importance of this event, chief executive of the WPNSA, Peter Allam, said: “It is part of a five-event global series staging racing in Melbourne, Miami, Hyeres, Weymouth and Portland, and Qingdao.

“This will be the highest profile event to be held at the academy in 2015.

“With 678 sailors having competed recently in Miami, the ISAF World Cup will pull the elite athletes back to the UK shores.

“Dubbed the ‘Road to the Olympics’, it is a chance to mix with the stars of the sailing world from June 8-14.”

August is a big month for the younger sailors during the summer holidays with the Topper National Championship running from August 1-7.

There are nearly 50,000 boats sold worldwide which will guarantee a packed start line at this event.

Another dinghy designed for single-handed youth sailing is the RS Tera.

The fleet will be hosting their national championship on site from August 28-31. The successful Hansa class for disabled sailors will make full use of the warmer weather and excellent facilities, with racing planned from August 14-16.

The academy schedule continues with autumnal action, including an opportunity for everyone to get involved in the second annual Bart’s Bash, taking place on September 20.

The first week of October is dedicated to speed with the pilgrimage to Weymouth Speed Week.

This is an annual favourite for the region where crafts ranging from windsurfing kit to home-made catamarans compete against the clock to set new world records.

The WPNSA welcomes visitors to view the racing during these events from the open air deck and indoor café, and parking is free of charge.

For more information, or a full guide of events, make sure you visit wpnsa. org.uk


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