Greek Maritime Officer Acquitted in Texas “Magic Pipe” Case
HOUSTON, April 28
A jury in Houston federal court on April 28th cleared A Greek maritime officer of charges that he engineered the dumping of oil tanker waste off of the Texas coast in early 2009.
The jury rejected claims by U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section that the officer, as chief engineer of the 40,000-ton tank vessel, ordered his crew to use a so-called “magic pipe” to bypass pollution control equipment and discharge sludge and oily waste into the seas near Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas.
Eight crewmembers testified for the government that C/E orchestrated the magic pipe bypass during his tenure on the vessel. The defense team demonstrated that the crew misled the government about the involvement of Chief Engineer in return for grants of immunity. The jury found that the Filipino crewmembers were not credible.
In an extraordinary ruling, presiding Judge Kenneth Hoyt struck the testimony of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab’s expert chemist, ruling it confusing and irrelevant. C/E’ defense presented a letter from a former whistleblower alerting the government to the use of “magic pipe” equipment in 2006, but there was no indication of a subsequent investigation by the Coast Guard or the DOJ. A crew witness who signed the letter testified it was prepared and signed as revenge against a former company official.
The case is “U.S. v. Mylonakis,” Case No. 4:09-cr-00492, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
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