An Egg Harbor Township man who allegedly staged a boating accident to escape criminal charges has turned himself in.
Andrew Biddle, 45, and his employer are accused of using Professional Boat Sales, Service and Storage in Egg Harbor Township to deceive people and steal money.
On July 20, Biddle could not be found after he and another man allegedly went into the water after their pontoon boat hit a buoy off Longport. But an investigation led police to believe he had staged the accident to avoid criminal charges.
“He recently called me and said he wanted to step up to the plate and take responsibility,” attorney Mark Roddy said Thursday. “I told him, if he was serious, to call me when he was back in the area, and I would set something up.”
On Wednesday, Roddy got the call that Biddle was in the tri-state area, he said. Late Thursday afternoon, the two stood before Judge Kyran Connor in Atlantic County Superior Court.
While the prosecutor said Biddle should be held without bail, Roddy successfully argued that Biddle should get credit for coming back.
He was given 24 hours to post $50,000 bail cash or bond. If he does not post the money, he would have to go to jail. He was free Thursday night.
“I know him well enough to know his knowledge of the oceans is phenomenal,” Roddy said. “This is a guy who, had he wanted to stay out there forever, he could have.”
It was unclear whether further charges would be brought againt Biddle as a result of the July 20 incident, when Justin Belz swam to shore and called police to say Biddle also had been in the boat.
The Coast Guard led a search for the missing man. Less than two weeks later, a flier was put out to law enforcement alleging Biddle staged the accident and was believed to be “alive and well and on the run.”
Biddle “is current U.S. and European offshore boat racing champion and has contacts throughout the country and abroad and could be anywhere,” read the flier put out by Egg Harbor Township Police Detective Ray Theriault.
No charges have been filed against Belz, whose Facebook page indicates he worked for Professional Boat Sales, the company run by Tracy Blumenstein. It was unclear whether Biddle — who had been free on a summons at the time — would face further charges for the alleged escape.
Biddle would not discuss where he had been, Roddy said. The lawyer believes his client returned due to his wife and children. They were not in court Thursday.
Biddle, who is the business' manager, faces nine charges in seven complaints, including selling a boat and trailer without repaying the owner, lying about the true cost of items sold and taking a down payment for a boat never provided.
All of the complaints are signed by Theriault, who said he had not been notified about Biddle's surrender.
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