OUI lawyer and former intern indicted on OUI charges in boating accident that cut off arm

Naut Guilty, the boat of defense lawyer Benjamin Urbelis, tied up at a dock in Charlestown.
Naut Guilty, the boat of defense lawyer Benjamin Urbelis, tied up at a dock in Charlestown. –David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo

A Boston OUI lawyer and his former intern were indicted Wednesday on OUI and other offenses stemming from a May 30 Boston Harbor boating accident that cut off the arm of a 19-year-old.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, Benjamin Urbelis, 33, was indicted on charges of negligent operation of a boat, operating a boat under the influence of alcohol, and providing alcohol to minors.

Urbelis was originally charged with causing serious bodily injury while operating a boat under the influence of alcohol after the propeller of his 29-foot boat, Naut Guilty, cut off the arm of Nicole Berthiaume, 19, in the area of Spectacle Island.

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However, prosecutors moved to drop the latter charge, upon suspicion that Alexander Williams, 24, was instead drunk-driving the boat. Williams was indicted Wednesday on charges of negligent operation of a boat, providing alcohol to minors, and tampering with evidence.

Police say Williams, who was a fellow at Urbelis’s law firm last summer, tried to erase and reset the contents of his phone when police presented him with a search warrant.

Urbelis has pleaded not guilty to the original charges, while Williams has yet to enter a plea. They both will have the opportunity to enter a plea when they return to court July 31.

Prosecutors say Urbelis and Williams were part of a 13-person group on Urbelis’ boat May 30. According to The Boston Globe, the boat was seen “swerving through the remains of the Long Island Bridge, maneuvering the wrong way through the passage.’’

Berthiaume had been on the boat, but jumped out to get a seat cushion that had blown into the water. It was when she was climbing back on the boat, that the propeller severed her arm above the elbow.

Urbelis was first arraigned while still wearing his swimming shorts. —Ted Fitzgerald/Pool

A witness also told the Globe that Urbelis was not on the boat when the incident occurred, but was actually in the water nearly a quarter-mile away when the initial distress call went out.

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Berthiaume was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital and is expected to survive, said the district attorney’s press release.

Along with his career defending drunk-driving allegations, Urbelis runs the nightlife promotion business Top Shelf Entertainment and is a part owner of Julep Bar in Boston’s Financial District.

The Globereported minors were found to be in possession of alcohol at Julep Bar twice in a recent five-month span.

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