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Friday, November 14, 2014

Chief Engineer of Car-Carrier Vessel Pleads Guilty to Obstruction of Justice in Marine Oil Pollution Case

The chief engineer of the cargo vessel M/V Selene Leader pleaded guilty today in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, to obstruction of justice and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Sam Hirsch and U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland.

Noly Torato Vidad was the chief engineer of the vessel, which was operated by Hachiuma Steamship Co LTD, a Japanese company, between August 2013 and the end of January 2014.  The M/V Selene Leader According to the plea agreement, in January 2014, engine room crew members of the M/V Selene Leader under the supervision of the defendant transferred oily wastes between oil tanks on board the ship using rubber hoses and then illegally bypassed pollution control equipment and discharged the oily wastes overboard into the ocean.  Before such waste can be discharged into the sea, the law requires that it must first pass through an oil water separator, and the operation must be recorded in the vessel’s oil record book for inspection by the United States Coast Guard.   

When the Coast Guard boarded the vessel in Baltimore on Jan. 31, 2014, Mr. Vidad tried to obstruct the Coast Guard’s investigation and hide the illegal discharges of oil by falsifying the oil record book, destroying documents, lying to Coast Guard investigators and instructing subordinate crew members to lie to the Coast Guard.  

Sentencing in this case is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2015.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham of the District of Maryland and Senior Trial Attorney David P. Kehoe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

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Updated November 14, 2014