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Press Release

Louisiana Dredging Company Pleads Guilty to Criminal Offense Relating to Death of Biloxi Mariner

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Mississippi

Gulfport, Miss - A Louisiana dredging corporation—C.F. Bean, LLC ("Bean")—pled guilty today to a criminal offense relating to the death of Biloxi mariner Mark Barhanovich, announced U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and Rear Admiral David R. Callahan, Commander of the Eighth Coast Guard District.

Bean admitted improperly marking its dredge operation near Deer Island, in violation of the applicable regulations designed to warn boaters.

The felony information charged that the corporation violated federal regulations that required the dredge barge Bean 20 to be marked to alert mariners that it was engaged in dredge operations and for the company to mark its dredge pipeline with appropriate lights at night and in periods of low visibility. The dredge operation near Deer Island was associated with the port restoration project at the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport, which involved dredging and transporting dredge spoil materials to a site at Deer Island near Biloxi, Mississippi. The dredge barge Bean 20 was situated near Deer Island and received dredge spoils that were then pumped to the island through a dredge pipeline. Despite the requirements for properly marking and lighting the Bean 20 and its dredge pipeline, Bean, through its agents and employees, failed to do so. Bean, through its agents and employees, was aware of repeated incidents when mariners struck the dredge pipeline, culminating in the fatal accident when Mark Barhanovich’s boatstruck the pipeline on September 16, 2012.

Bean admitted that its negligence, violation of law, and inattention to duties resulted in the death of Barhanovich, which is the basis for the charged felony violation of the federal criminal law governing misconduct or neglect of ship officers. The statute is also commonly referred to as the Seaman’s Manslaughter act. A corporation convicted of this offense is subject to a penalty of not more than $500,000 per count.

The corporation agreed and was ordered to pay the maximum penalty of $500,000. The corporation was placed on five years of probation and also was ordered to pay a mandatory special assessment of $400.

"Boaters depend on dredging companies to properly follow rules for marking their dredge operations, so that mariners can avoid hazards that can prove highly dangerous or even fatal, as was the sad situation here," said U.S. Attorney Davis. "It is hard to understand how an experienced maritime business like this could have failed in its duty at such a high cost."

"As a lifesaving organization, the Coast Guard is saddened by any loss of life. Ourcondolences go out to the family of those involved in this tragic event. As an organization, we will continue to monitor our waterways of responsibility and to work closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office to support their efforts in holding offenders criminally accountable," said Eighth Coast Guard District Commander, Rear Admiral David R. Callahan.

Bean entered its plea before United States District Judge Sul Ozerden. U.S. Attorney Davis praised the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Mobile, and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for their diligent work in the investigation of this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Gaines Cleveland was the prosecutor in charge of the case.

Updated October 28, 2015