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Former Chief Engineer Arraigned on Charges Related to Vessel Pollution

WASHINGTON—Patrick K. Brown, a former Chief Engineer of the M/V Fidelio was arraigned today on a six count indictment related to deliberate vessel pollution that was originally returned by a federal grand jury on July 26, 2007. The indictment was announced by Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment & Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to the indictment, Brown was a U.S. licensed Chief Engineer and was responsible for managing and supervising the engine department, including compliance with laws regulating the discharge of oil from the ship. The indictment alleges that Chief Engineer Brown conspired to discharge oil-contaminated bilge waste directly into the ocean through the use of a “magic pipe” which bypassed the ship’s oily water separator, a required piece of pollution prevention equipment. Brown is alleged to have used a false log book regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard in order to conceal illegal discharges.

Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels such as the Fidelio generate large amounts of oil-contaminated waste water. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of the waste without treatment by an oily water separator. The law also requires all overboard discharges be recorded in an Oil Record Book, a required log. Brown faces up to five years in prison, a potential fine, a special assessment of $100, and a term of probation up to five years. An indictment contains only allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This investigation was conducted by the Chesapeake Regional Office of the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division. Additional assistance was provided by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District Legal Office, Coast Guard Office of International and Maritime Law, and Coast Guard Headquarters Office of Investigations and Analysis. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.