Cargo Ship Chief Engineer Convicted of Environmental Crimes, Obstruction of Justice and Witness Tampering
A chief engineer from the M/V Trident Navigator was convicted by a federal jury in New Orleans late yesterday after a week-long trial, of knowingly falsifying the vessel’s oil record book in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), obstruction of justice and witness tampering, announced the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Matthaios Fafalios, 64, a resident of Greece, was convicted of knowingly falsifying the vessel’s oil record book, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering related to his service onboard the M/V Trident Navigator and a subsequent U.S. Coast Guard boarding of the vessel in January 2014. In late December 2013, Fafalios ordered his engineering crew to construct a hose known in the industry as a “magic hose” to discharge the oily waste water that was in the vessel’s bilge holding tank. Two crewmembers onboard the vessel reported this illegal discharge to the Coast Guard. When coast guard inspectors boarded the vessel, Fafalios attempted to hide critical documents from the inspectors that indicated the illegal discharge occurred. Additionally, Fafalios ordered engineers under his command to lie to the Coast Guard about the illegal oily waste water discharge.
Consistent with requirements in the APPS regulations, a vessel like the M/V Trident Navigator, must maintain a record known as an oil record book in which transfer and disposal of all oil-contaminated waste and the discharge overboard and disposal otherwise of such waste, must be fully and accurately recorded by the person in charge of the operations. Oil-contaminated bilge waste can be discharged overboard if it is processed through on-board pollution prevention equipment known as the oily water separator (OWS).
The operator of the vessel, Marine Managers ltd., had previously pleaded guilty to knowingly falsifying the oil record book and obstruction of justice and paid a total criminal penalty of $900,000.00.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Kenneth E. Nelson of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice and by Emily Greenfield of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.