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FISCAL YEAR: 2011
1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Fleet Management
S.D.  Texas  V-10-51
2. DEFENDANT: John P. Zacharias
S.D.  Texas  V-10-39
3. DEFENDANT: Prasada R. Mareddy
S.D.  Texas  V-10-52
4. DEFENDANT: Prem Kumar - Fugitive
S.D.  Texas  V-10-52
Fleet Management Limited, a Hong Kong corporation, operated a Panamanian motor vessel named Lowlands Sumida, which arrived in the port of Point Comfort on October 6, 2009. The vessel was found to have a "dummy" or blanked off sounding tube installed in the #5 Center Fuel Oil Tank which concealed oily wastewater. Further investigation revealed discrepancies in the vessel's Oil Record Book indicating that the ship's oil water separator had been bypassed.

On April 29, 2010, Fleet Management was charged in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas with failing to keep an accurate Oil Record Book, presenting the false Oil Record Book for inspection and using the dummy sounding tube and false entries in the sounding log to conceal the amount of oily wastewater on board the vessel. On June 3, 2010, Fleet Management pled guilty to all three counts and was sentenced on September 9, 2010 to pay a $3 million criminal penalty and was placed on 48 months probation.

The Chief Engineer, John P. Zacharias was charged with failing to keep an accurate Oil Record Book and presenting to investigators, a false sounding log that was based on use of the dummy sounding tube. He pled guilty to both counts and was sentenced to 60 months probation during which time he is prohibited from serving on any ship that was to call at a United States port.

Second Engineer, Prasada R. Mareddy and the ship's shoreside superintendent, Prem Kumar were charged with conspiring to make a false material statement by presenting the false sounding log to inspectors and obstructing the investigation by using the dummy sounding tube to cover up false entries in the sounding log. The second engineer pled guilty to conspiracy and was sentenced to 60 months probation and banned from serving on any ship that was to call at a United States port.

The shoreside superintendent, Prem Kumar, was charged with conspiracy, obstructing the investigation by causing the dummy sounding tube to be installed and obstructing the investigation by causing a false sounding log to be presented to the investigators. Kumar remains a fugitive.



March 25, 2010
Zacharias was charged iwth a violation of 33 U.S.C. 1908(a) - failing to keep an accurate Oil Record Book; violating 18 U.S.C. 1519 - presenting to investigators a false sounding log.

CITATION: 18 U.S.C. 1001(a), 18 U.S.C. 1519, 33 U.S.C. 1908(a)
April 22, 2010
Zacharias pled guilty to both counts.


Department of Justice
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ship Crew Member Pleads Guilty for Obstruction of U.S. Coast Guard Pollution Investigation

The chief engineer of a cargo vessel registered in the Republic of Panama pleaded guilty in federal court in Corpus Christi, Texas, for obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard investigation into the illegal overboard discharge of polluted wastewater as well as failing to keep accurate pollution control records, the Justice Department announced today.

John Porunnolil Zacharias, the chief engineer of the M/V Lowlands Sumida, a 37,689 gross ton bulk carrier cargo ship, pleaded guilty yesterday to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution (APPS) for failing to maintain an oil record book and to an obstruction violation for providing inspectors with a false engine room sounding log, and for altering a center fuel oil tank by installing a "dummy" sounding tube to conceal the contents of the tank Zacharias, as the chief engineer, was responsible for the supervision of the engineering officers, the fitter and the motormen working in the engine spaces of the Lowlands Sumida. He was also responsible for assuring that the oil record book accurately recorded the handling of oily waste on the ship including the processing of oily waste water through the ship’s oil-water separator and the operation and maintenance of the oil-water separator.

On Oct. 6, 2009, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a port inspection of the Lowlands Sumida. During the inspection they received information from one of the crewmen alleging that a chief engineer was using the center fuel tank to store oily waste water and that the waste water was then discharged overboard by tricking the oil content meter on the ship’s oil water separator.

Zacharias admitted to the altering of a center fuel oil tank through the installation of a "dummy" sounding tube. The "dummy" sounding tube would show the tank as empty when measured, even though there was liquid in the tank.

Large commercial ships, such as the Lowlands Sumida, are required by APPS to maintain a record known as the oil record book to document the movement, tank to tank, and the disposal of, all oil that has originated in the engineering spaces on the ship. Oily bilge waste waters, which accumulate in the lower-most part of the ship, can only be discharged overboard if the wastes are processed through a machine known as an "oil water separator" which ensures that the water discharged overboard contains no more than 15 parts per million (ppm) of oil. Zacharias admitted to discharging oily waste water that exceeded the 15 ppm limit from the ship and not recording the discharges in the oil record book.

Zacharias is scheduled to be sentenced on July 7, 2010.

The case is being investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division in Region VI and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The case is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.

April 29, 2010
Fleet was charged with one count of making false statements, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a); one count of violating 18 U.S.C. 1519 {impeding the investigation by using the dummy sounding tube}; and one count of violating the CWA {33 U.S.C. 1908(a) - failure to keep an accurate Oil Record Book}.

Prasada Mareddy was charged with conspiracy, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 371.

Mareddy pled guilty to the conspiracy charge.

Prem Kumar was charged with conpsiracy, obstructing the investigation by causing the dummy sounding tube {18 U.S.C. 1519 and 18 U.S.C. 1505 - obstruction}.

CITATION: 18 U.S.C. 371
June 3, 2010
Fleet Management pled guilty to all three counts.
September 9, 2010
Fleet was sentenced to 48 months probation and ordered to pay a $3 million federal fine.

November 17, 2010
Zacharias was sentenced to 60 months probation during which time he is prohibited from serving on any ship that is to call at a United States port.

Mareddy was sentenced to 60 months probation and ban from serving on any ship that is to call at a United States port.

Kumar remains at large.

STATUTE:
  • Title 18 U.S. Criminal Code (TITLE 18)
  • Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS)

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