Three tourists to St. Thomas from New York were sentenced to as much as three months in prison each for defrauding three cruise lines of more than $78,000 in merchandise and services, United States Attorney Ronald Sharpe announced Thursday.
New York residents Sam Gross, 25, Joseph Herskovitz, 27, and Jacob Eisenberger, 29, were sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Curtis V. Gomez.
Gomez sentenced Gross to serve three months in prison and three months of home confinement, and ordered him to pay $36,283.91 in restitution. He sentenced Herskovitz to serve two months in prison and three months of home confinement, and ordered him to pay $19,005.97 in restitution. Eisenberger was sentenced to serve 15 days in prison and two months of home confinement, and ordered to pay $1,860.08 in restitution.
Gomez also sentenced all three men to serve three years of supervised release.
On June 27, Eisenberger and Herskovitz pleaded guilty to using access devices to defraud the cruise lines, and Gross pleaded guilty to conspiring to use access devices to defraud the cruise lines.
According to court documents, in January the men bought passage aboard the cruise ship Majesty of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, and purchased merchandise from the ship using a ship-issued charge card. Passengers are permitted to use the ship-issued card to make purchases while on board the ship, and are required to pay for all of their purchases at the end of the cruise before leaving the ship.
After charging for goods and services on the ship, the men abandoned the cruise after one day without paying for the goods and services.
Court records also showed that on Feb. 3, Eisenberger and Herskovitz defrauded the Carnival Cruise Line when they abandoned the cruise ship, Carnival Destiny, without paying for their purchases on board the ship.
Two weeks later, Herskovitz and Eisenberger defrauded the Princess Cruise Line, when they boarded the cruise ship Dawn Princess, charged merchandise using the ship-issued charge card, then abandoned the ship without paying for the charged items, the court found.
The sentencing for Natfuly Weiss, the fourth defendant charged in the indictment with the three men, is scheduled for Dec. 13.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard E. Potter.