Boater Who Prompted Coast Guard Search Now Jailed on Fraud Charge
HOUSTON (AP) -- A businessman who officials say tried to fake his own death when his boat slammed into a barge in the Houston Ship Channel this summer has been arrested and charged with fraud.
The U.S. Coast Guard spent several days unsuccessfully searching Larry Michael Nixon, 54, of Clear Lake, after his 40-foot speedboat, the "Living Extra Fast," collided with a barge in the ship channel on Aug. 27.
He was arrested near Forth Worth on Friday on a felony fraud warrant from West Virginia, said Lowell Moss, a spokesman for the Parker County Sheriff's Office.
Days after the boating accident, Minnwest Bank Central of Montevideo, Minn., filed suit against Nixon and his company, Delta Crane, which leased large equipment to contractors. Papers in the lawsuit contend that Nixon entered into a Feb. 25 agreement with the bank providing him with a $4 million line of credit. Bankers gave Nixon a notice of default 22 days before the boat collision and demanded payment.
The West Virginia fraud charge was connected to a 1994 incident in which one man has already been convicted in a scheme to lease a crane he didn't own.
Nixon, well-known for his love of fast boats and parties, was arrested while living in the guesthouse on a gated estate of several acres off Interstate 20, just west of Weatherford in Parker County, by deputies acting on a tip from the Dallas FBI office.
"Initially, we thought he probably went to South America," said Kemah Police Chief Roy Owen, whose agency initially investigated the boating collision.
Owen said investigators were initially suspicious about the boat crash. The position of the controls and damage to the boat led them to believe there was no driver on board when it crashed.
Nixon surrendered peacefully to deputies who found significant amounts of what they believe are steroids in the guesthouse. Moss said Nixon also has been charged with possession of a controlled substance.