Italian Shipping Company and Chief Engineer Charged with Environmental Crimes and Obstruction of Justice
WASHINGTON – Italian-based shipping company Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company S.P.A., owner and operator of the Motor Vessel Bottiglieri Challenger, and Vito La Forgia, the vessel’s chief engineer, have been charged in a four-count indictment with the illegal dumping of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy and two counts of obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice announced today.
Engine room operations on board large ocean going vessels such as the Bottiglieri Challenger generate large amounts of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water. International and U.S. law requires that all overboard discharges of waste oil be recorded in an oil record book, a log that is regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.
According to the indictment, on or about Jan. 25, 2012, the Bottiglieri Challenger arrived in Mobile, Ala., and was boarded by Coast Guard officials who conducted an inspection to determine the vessel’s compliance with U.S. and international law. The Coast Guard’s inspection uncovered evidence that Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company, acting through its agents and employees and chief engineer Vito La Forgia, conspired to and failed to maintain an accurate oil record book that reflected all disposals of oil residue and discharges overboard, in violation of federal law.
Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company and Vito La Forgia are also charged in the indictment with obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection by ordering that an illegal bypass pipe, also referred to as a “magic pipe,” that was used to transfer oil-contaminated waste overboard, be removed prior the vessel’s arrival in Mobile. The indictment further alleges that the shipping company and La Forgia obstructed the inspection by having one of the waste tanks rinsed out with sea water before reaching the port in Mobile.
If convicted, Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company faces a fine and other possible penalties. La Forgia faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charge.
An indictment contains only allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigations Division. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Alabama and by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.