President pardons man in decades-old Gloucester fish scandal

James A. Bordinaro Jr., a former Gloucester fish company manager who served time in federal prison for his role in a 1980s-era bid-rigging scandal, was pardoned by President Obama Friday, according to the White House. From the 1980s into the early 1990s, Bordinaro was general manager of Gloucester’s Empire Fish Co., which, along with several other New England fish processing companies, conspired to fix the price of fish sold to the Department of Defense, according to Globe reports at the time. Prosecutors also charged Empire and its co-conspirators with falsifying documents certifying that their catch was from US waters, a requirement of government contracts. In fact, much of the fish the group sold to the government was from Canadian waters and had been “laundered” through a series of secret transfers. Bordinaro and Empire Fish were fined a total of $355,000, and the three-generation family business went into bankruptcy before being sold. Bordinaro, previously a well-known spokesman for the town’s fishing industry, pleaded guilty to the charges in April 1991 and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, three years supervised release, and a $55,000 fine.