On August 15, 2012, a federal jury in Washington, D.C., returned guilty verdicts against Sanford Ltd., a New Zealand fishing company, on six counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”), specifically for causing the vessel to enter to the port of Pago Pago with a falsified oil record book; obstruction for falsely stating in the oil record book that required pollution prevention equipment had been used when it had not; and of discharging machinery space bilge waste into the port of Pago Pago without using required pollution prevention equipment including the oil water separator. The jury also found James Pogue, the primary chief engineer, guilty of two charges: failing to maintain an oil record book for the vessel and obstruction of justice for falsely stating in the oil record book that required pollution prevention equipment had been used.
This case was tried by my good friend, Michael Chalos.
The case was tried over two weeks in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, before Judge Beryl A. Howell. Sentencing is currently scheduled for November 16, 2012. Sanford faces a maximum fine of up to $500,000.00 on each count, for a total potential penalty of $3,000,000.00. Pogue faces up to up to twenty years in prison for obstruction of justice and up to six years for knowingly failing to maintain an accurate oil record book.
Sanford operates the San Nikunau a vessel that routinely delivers tuna to a cannery in Pago Pago. Over the past five years, Sanford was paid over $24,000,000.00 for tuna deliveries. In July 2011, according to the government, the United States Coast Guard conducted a Port State Control
examination on the Fishing Vessel (F/V) San Nikunau, when the vessel entered port in Pago Pago, American Samoa. The examination revealed that the vessel had been making false entries and
omissions in its oil record book (vessels are required to maintain accurate records of oil waste generated).
Prior to the trial, Rolando Ong Vano, another chief engineer who worked on the vessel, pleaded guilty to charges in the case. He is to be sentenced September 7, 2012.
The case was tried for the government by Kenneth E. Nelson of the Environmental Crimes Section of the DOJ and AUSA Frederick W. Yette of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
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