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Ship's Engineer Pleads Guilty to Obstruction and Ship's Owner Signs Plea Agreement
Release Date: 01/27/2005
Contact: Stacie Findon 202-564-7338 / firstname.lastname@example.org
(01/27/05) Edgardo Guinto of the Philippines, chief engineer of the Motor Vessel Katerina pleaded guilty on Jan. 14 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles to charges that he obstructed justice by concealing an oil pollution control system bypass pipe from federal investigators. The defendant admitted that he allowed the system to be bypassed, instructed crew members to remove and conceal the bypass pipe when the ship came into Long Beach Harbor and admitted that he made fraudulent entries in the ship's Oil Record Book. The pipe had been used to illegally discharge oil into the Pacific Ocean. In addition, DST Shipping Inc., of Thessaloniki, Greece, parent company of the Katerina, has signed a plea agreement. In that agreement, DST agreed to plead to obstructing a federal proceeding and failing to keep an accurate Oil Record Book. The agreement states that DST admits to discharging oil contaminated bilge water into the ocean on numerous occasions during a six month period in 2004 and further admits to directing the crew of the Katerina to hide the bypass pipe. Discharging untreated oily bilge water into the Pacific can harm fish and other aquatic life. The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, the Coast Guard's Investigative Service and the Los Angeles office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.