Guilty plea in magic pipe case

NOVEMBER 17, 2014 — The chief engineer of the car carrler M/V Selene Leader pleaded guilty Friday, in federal court in Baltimore, MD, to obstruction of justice and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).

The U.S. Department of Justice says that Noly Torato Vidad was the chief engineer of the M/V Selene Leader, which was operated by Japan's Hachiuma Steamship Co., between August 2013 and the end of January 2014.

According to the plea agreement, says the Department of Justice, in January 2014, engine room crew members under the supervision of the defendant transferred oily wastes between oil tanks on board the ship using rubber hoses and then illegally bypassed pollution control equipment and discharged the oily wastes overboard into the ocean. Before such waste can be discharged into the sea, the law requires that it must first pass through an oil water separator, and the operation must be recorded in the vessel's oil record book for inspection by the United States Coast Guard.

When the Coast Guard boarded the vessel in Baltimore on January 31, 2014, Mr. Vidad tried to obstruct the Coast Guard's investigation and hide the illegal discharges of oil by falsifying the oil record book, destroying documents, lying to Coast Guard investigators and instructing subordinate crew members to lie to the Coast Guard.

Sentencing in this case is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2015.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham of the District of Maryland and Senior Trial Attorney David P. Kehoe of the Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section.

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