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Naut Guilty Boat Owner, Attorney Benjamin Urbelis, Acquitted
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Urbelis and WiIliams

Summary: The Naut Guilty boat owner, attorney Benjamin Urbelis, was acquitted of two charges regarding a boating accident with alcohol and minors.

Boston attorney Benjamin P. Urbelis’s power boat, Naut Guilty, was involved in a horrific accident that left a 19-year-old girl without her right arm. Urbelis, 35, was not operating the boat when the accident happened in 2015 but he did provide alcohol to the minor onboard.


Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley prosecuted Urbelis, who was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence and negligent operation of a vessel. Police contend that Urbelis was hostile to police officers at the scene, stating “I know you’re just probably a 22-year-old cop, but I am a defense attorney, and I know all the tricks.” He was facing up to 2.5 years behind bars.

Naut Guilty boat

Before the trial against Urbelis even started, he pleaded guilty to one count of furnishing alcohol to minors. Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles ordered the case continued without a finding for one year. This means that as long as he does not re-offend, the case will be dismissed. He will also be required to attend 10 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings within the next year.

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As his defense attorney, David Meier told the Globe after his acquittal, “By all accounts, this was a horrendous accident suffered by a courageous young woman. At the same time, Mr. Urbelis is grateful that criminal cases are tried in courtrooms and decided by evidence and the rule of law, and not in the media. He and his family now hope to move on with their lives.”

The case gathered a strong media following due to the fact that the victim, Nicole Berthiaume of Auburn, had her arm sheared off. The accident occurred on May 30, 2015, when Urbelis and Berthiaume were swimming behind the boat near Spectacle Island. The person behind the wheel in the boat was Alexander Williams, 26 even though Urbelis was legally the only one allowed to drive the boat. Williams was a law student at New England Law at the time, working as a summer intern at Urbelis’ law firm.

Urbelis had taken a group of 14 people out on the boat for cruising and drinking. Berthiaume was swimming back the boat when Williams put the boat into reverse. As she tried to come aboard the power boat, she was sucked under, severing her right arm in the propeller.

Williams pleaded guilty two months ago to negligent operation of a boat, tampering with evidence in connection to the accident, and furnishing alcohol to minors. Giles continued the case against him without a finding for two years. He will have to complete 200 hours of community service working specifically with amputees.

Berthiaume delivered a victim impact statement that was addressed to Giles. She said, “It wasn’t until then that I realized that although my mind was the same, I was not. I was a shell of a human being. A shell of who I was. You will rarely hear me complain about the incident, and you will almost never hear me complain about my disability but that does not mean it doesn’t kill me every time I look in the mirror, drop something, or accept help from someone.”

Urbelis is a criminal defense attorney, specializing in cases involving operating-under-the-influence.

Do you think Urbelis should be responsible for the accident? Who do you think should be responsible? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys with drinking problems, read these articles:

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