FT LAUDERDALE COMPANY SENTENCED IN OIL POLLUTION CASE
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, Commander, 7th Coast Guard District, and Jonathan Sall, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, announced that Coastal Shipping Holding, LLC, of Fort Lauderdale, was sentenced today for its failure to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book on board its cargo vessel, the M/V Island Express I. U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn sentenced Coastal Shipping Holding to a $350,000 fine and three years’ probation. Judge Cohn also ordered Coastal Shipping Holding to make a $350,000 community service payment. The payment will fund environmental projects and initiatives designed for the benefit, preservation, and restoration of the environment and ecosystems in the waters of South Florida. Coastal Shipping Holding previously pled guilty to two counts of failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book on board the M/V Island Express I.
According to court documents, Coastal Shipping Holding owned the M/V Island Express I, a coastal cargo freighter that makes frequent trips from its home port in Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. On May 4, 2010, when the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the ship, Coast Guard inspectors discovered that the ship’s oil pollution prevention equipment did not work. Furthermore, the ship contained hoses and pumps on board that were erected to be able to send oily-water waste directly overboard into the ocean. Meanwhile, the ship’s Oil Record Book failed to contain required records indicating how the ship disposed of its oily water waste from as early as February 7, 2010 through May 4, 2010, the date of the inspection.
In a related superseding indictment, defendants Hugo Pena, 45, of Miami, HP Maritime Consultants, Inc., of Miami, Ronald Ramon, 45, of Honduras, and Northon Eraso, 66, of Colombia, are charged in an oil pollution conspiracy. Trial in this related case is set for September 20, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Ferrer commended investigative efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services. This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Raich.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.