Two indicted in "magic pipe" case

DECEMBER 14, 2014 — The Department of Justice reports that a federal grand jury in Greenville, NC, has returned a nine-count indictment charging two engineering officers employed by Oceanfleet Shipping Limited with crimes relating to the illegal discharge of oily wastes directly into the sea.

Oceanfleet Shipping Limited is a Greek shipping company that operates the 29,513 dwt Liberian-flag general cargo ship M/V Ocean Hope.

The two engineering officers indicted are the vessel's Chief Engineer, Rustico Yabut Ignacio, 65, of the Philippines; and the Second Engineer, Cassius Flores Samson, 51, of the Philippines.

According to the indictment, in 2015 Samson bypassed pollution prevention equipment with an unauthorized hose connection, or "magic pipe," to discharge oil sludge generated by the M/V Ocean Hope directly into the sea. Samson also ordered crew members on numerous other occasions to pump oily mixtures from the vessel's bilges into the sea using the ship's general service pump rather than processing these mixtures through the vessel's pollution prevention equipment.

To hide the illegal discharges, Ignacio and Samson allegedly maintained a fictitious oil record book that failed to record the disposal, transfer, or overboard discharge of oil from the vessel. The oil record book also contained false entries stating that pollution prevention equipment had been used when it had not.

The indictment further alleges Ignacio and Samson ordered subordinate crew members to lie to the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection in Wilmington, NC. The crew members were allegedly instructed to deny knowledge of the connection of the pipe used discharge sludge and to tell the Coast Guard that Oily Water Separator had been used as required under international law to process oily mixtures before discharge when they knew it had not.

Both engineering officers were charged with violating the federal Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to record overboard discharges in the vessel's oil record book, conspiracy for their agreement to violate federal law, obstruction of justice for presenting false documents intended to deceive the Coast Guard and witness tampering for ordering subordinate crewmembers to mislead and lie to the Coast Guard.

Samson was also charged with false statements and obstruction of justice for lying to Coast Guard inspectors about the discharges.
The U.S. Coast Guard, Sector North Carolina, investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and Trial Attorneys Shane N. Waller and Brendan Selby with the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case.announced Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

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