Chief Engineer Sentenced for Falsifying Records

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dimitrios Dimitrakis, Chief Engineer of the cargo ship M/V New Fortune, was sentenced in federal court in Oakland today to three years probation, a $5,000 fine, and a $100 special assessment for failing to maintain an Oil Record Book, a document required by MARPOL, a treaty ratified and implemented by the United States, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced. This sentence stems from the overboard disposal of oil residue, sludge, oil, and oily mixtures into the ocean and Dimitrakis’s subsequent efforts to conceal these discharges by falsifying onboard records.

According to Court documents, the M/V New Fortune is a ocean-going bulk cargo ship registered in the Marshall Islands that carried bulk products in world-wide commerce. During a routine inspection at the Port of Oakland, crew members informed U.S. Coast Guard inspectors that the crew was using a “magic hose” to dispose of the vessel’s oil-containing waste overboard, bypassing the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment. Further investigation by the Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division revealed waste oil in the overboard piping of the M/V New Fortune and also uncovered evidence of false entries made in the vessel’s Oil Record Book.

Court documents further state that Chief Engineer Dimitrakis admitted that he regularly ordered M/V New Fortune crew members to bypass the vessel’s oil pollution prevention equipment through the illegal use of a bypass hose, thereby causing the discharge of oil-contaminated bilge water and sludge directly into the ocean. Dimitrakis ordered crew members to disconnect and hide the bypass hose prior to entering United States waters and ports, as well as ports in other locations.

According to court documents, Dimitrakis made false entries into the Oil Record Book indicating that the ship’s Oil Water Separator was being used, creating the false impression that the vessel was being properly operated and that they were properly maintaining the vessel’s Oil Record Book. No entries were made in the ship’s Oil Record Book indicating the direct discharge of bilge water and sludge from the ship into the ocean.

On July 30, 2010, U.S. District Judge D. Lowell Jensen sentenced Transmar, the owner of the M/V New Fortune, to pay a fine of $750,000 and an additional community service payment of $100,000; the court also ordered it to follow an environmental compliance plan agreed to by the parties. On July 30, 2010, another defendant, Volodymyr Dombrovskyy was sentenced to two years probation, a $500 fine, and a $100 special assessment. Dimitrakis was the final defendant to be sentenced in this matter.

This case is being prosecuted by Chinhayi Cadet, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, and Trial Attorney Lana Pettus for the Environmental Crimes Section in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division with the assistance of Jeanne Carstensen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Port State Control Inspections Office, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard District Eleven Legal Office.
 

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