Thursday, July 01, 1999

Man gets prison for partly sinking Belle

He plans to appeal steamboat case

The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — A man convicted of partly sinking the Belle of Louisville steamboat into the Ohio River two years ago was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in federal prison.

        U.S. District Judge Charles Simpson also ordered Brennan Callan, 32, to pay $987,818.32 in restitution and a $100 fine.

        Mr. Callan's lawyers asked the judge to let them withdraw and have new lawyers appointed. The judge denied that, as well as defense requests for postponement of sentencing and a new trial.

        Mr. Callan said he will appeal. An appeal must be filed within 10 days.

        “I am completely and utterly innocent,” he said after the sentencing. “If we win the appeal, the sentence becomes irrelevant.”

        Mr. Callan is to report to prison voluntarily in about four weeks. The location has not been determined.

        Meanwhile, he said he would be back in classes at the University of Louisville on Thursday.

        A federal jury Feb. 18 convicted Mr. Callan of sneaking aboard the Belle under the cover of darkness and opening a water valve, flooding the boat's hull and submerging its stern Aug. 27, 1997.

        Mr. Callan, a former seasonal employee of the Belle, was convicted of endangering a ship and faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

        Prosecutors said Mr. Callan sank the steamboat after failing to get rehired to the crew. The case lacked eyewitnesses or fingerprints.

        The 85-year-old steamboat was repaired and returned to service seven months after the sinking.

        A fixture along Louisville's waterfront, the boat gives pleasure cruises throughout the summer.

        Most years, the Belle races another steamboat, the Delta Queen, as part of the city's festival leading up to the Kentucky Derby.


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