BOSTON (AP) — A former New Bedford scalloper who was driven out of business by what an independent investigator called regulators' excessive and unfair penalties is suing the federal government.

Larry Yacubian's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for lost wages, lost property and emotional damages. In a claim earlier this year, rejected by federal agencies, he asked for $15 million.

Yacubian was refunded $400,000 in fines in 2011 and received letters of apology from top federal officials. But in an interview Monday he said that didn't make up for a malicious and abusive prosecution that destroyed his life's work.

"I was banished to the gulag. I couldn't work again in a profession that I had been in for years," Yacubian said in an interview Monday.

Yacubian's case was among several considered by special investigator Charles Swartwood, who was appointed in 2010 by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Swartwood's appointment came after National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco ordered a review by the Commerce department's inspector general. Her request followed years of complaints by Northeast fishermen about unfair treatment from the attorneys and officers who enforce the nation's fishery laws. The complicated laws govern, among other things, where fishermen can fish and how much they can catch.

The inspector general's review said abusive treatment wasn't widespread, but flagged several penalties for further investigation, including Yacubian's.

Yacubian owned a 95-foot scallop boat and was active in the Fisheries Survival Fund, an industry group that helped devise a management plan that rotates the opening and closing of certain fishing areas. The strategy revitalized the scallop stock, now the Northeast's most lucrative.

In 1998, Yacubian was fined after he was accused by fishery police of fishing in a closed area and for allegedly lying about his catch. He denied the charges, but by 2000, his right to fish had been permanently revoked.

He tried to sell his boat and fishing permits twice in coming years, but enforcement officers blocked the sale, saying Yacubian didn't have the right to sell them. In 2004, a federal judge vacated the penalties against Yacubian, but law enforcement officials essentially ignored the order, according to Swartwood's report.

In June 2005, Yacubian agreed to pay $430,000 to settle the case, but Swartwood ruled that decision had come only after Yacubian was so financially desperate that his wife had to sell a family farm in Westport. Yacubian now lives in Florida, where he works on tour boats.

Swartwood concluded "money was NOAA's motivating objective in this case," though an email he referred to as evidence was redacted in his report.

The $400,000 Locke ordered returned to Yacubian was by far the most given back to any fishermen or business. But Yacubian said it doesn't make up for lost wages in the booming industry, shed more light on his case or rectify abuses in the system.

For instance, the inspector general later revealed that the top fishery cop had wrongly shredded documents during the investigation and that millions in fines paid by fishermen was used on questionable expenditures, including a luxury undercover boat used by an officer for pleasure cruising.

"It did not make me whole again. It did not take into account that NOAA's actions harmed me and my family and other fishermen," said Yacubian, 64.

A NOAA spokeswoman said it would be inappropriate to comment on pending litigation.

Since Swartwood's report, the agency has highlighted various reforms, including strict oversight of fines, new leadership and policies to ensure uniform enforcement practices nationwide.