Enforcement

Summary of Criminal Prosecutions

Search Criminal Prosecution

FISCAL YEAR: 2012
1. PRINCIPAL DEFENDANT: Paynongut Vongvichiankul
S.D.  Alabama  1:11-0CR-00368-KD
2. DEFENDANT: Pakpoom Hanprap
S.D.  Alabama  1:11-0CR-00368-KD
3. DEFENDANT: Prastana Taohim
S.D.  Alabama  1:11-0CR-00368-KD????
4. DEFENDANT: Target Ship Management PTE, LTD.
S.D.  Alabama  1:11-0CR-00368-KD


Taohim was the Captain on the M/V Gaurav Prem. Vongichiankul was the Chief Engineer and Hanprap was the second engineer. The M/V Gaurav Prem is a 225 foot dry bulk carrier vessel owned by Mercator Lines Ltd. and flagged out of Singapore.

The defendants discharged or caused the overboard discharge of oily bilge waste from the M/V Gaurav Prem on multiple occasions a as the vessel sailed from South Korea to Mobile. The investigation also revealed that the ship's oil record books contained false entries.



December 28, 2011
The defendants were charged with obstruction, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1505; tampering with a witness, victim or informant, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1512(b); destruction, alteration or falsification of records, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1519; making false statements, a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001 and violating 33 U.S.C. 1908 - Act to Prevent of Pollution from Ships (APPS).
CITATION: 18 U.S.C. 1505, 18 U.S.C. 1512(b), 18 U.S.C. 1519, 33 U.S.C. 1908, 33 USC 1319
May 15, 2012
The trial started against Captain Taohim for obstruction charges.

On May 17, 2012, the jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts.


Press Release

Department of Justice
NEWS RELEASE
Southern District of Alabama
Friday, May 18, 2012

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ship’s Captain Convicted of Obstructing a Coast Guard Inspection

WASHINGTON – The former captain of a Panama-flagged cargo ship that discharged hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean, was convicted yesterday by a jury in Mobile, Ala., for obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the port of Mobile on Sept. 21, 2011. Prastana Taohim, 38, the captain of the M/V Gaurav Prem, was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice, announced Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Kenyen R. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

At trial, witnesses testified that Captain Taohim ordered the ship’s chief officer to throw hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean and not record the discharge in the ship’s garbage record book as required. The garbage record book is a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. Taohim then knowingly made the garbage record book available during a Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the Port of Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 21, 2011. The plastic pipes had previously contained insecticide and were used to fumigate a grain shipment. The discharge of plastic into the sea is prohibited under the International Convention to Prevent Pollution from Ships, known as MARPOL.

Taohim was found guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Alabama for obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection of the ship. The jury also found the defendant guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to covering up the pollution by creating a false and fictitious garbage log.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 15, 2012.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division. Additional assistance was provided by the Coast Guard Sector Mobile, and U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District Legal Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David O’Connell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anderson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.


May 30, 2012
Target pled guilty to 2 counts - one count of making false statements and one count of violation APPS.

Vongvichianku pled guilty to one count of violating APPS.

Hanprap pled guilty to one count of violating APPS.


Press Release

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Singapore Ship Operator and Engineers Plead Guilty to Crimes Related to Pollution from Cargo Ship Traveling to Mobile, Alabama

Company Sentenced to Pay $1.2 Million Criminal Penalty

WASHINGTON – A ship management company headquartered in Singapore pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in federal court in Mobile for deliberately falsifying records to conceal pollution discharges from the ship directly into the sea. Target Ship Management Pte. Ltd., the operator of the M/V Gaurav Prem, pleaded guilty to a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for failing to properly maintain an oil record book as required by federal and international law, as well as making material false statements during a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the ship at the port of Mobile in September 2011.

Payongyut Vongvichinakul, the ship’s chief engineer, and Pakpoom Hanprap, the ship’s second engineer, also pleaded guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and are scheduled to be sentenced on July 19, 2012.

The company was sentenced to pay a $1 million criminal fine along with a $200,000 community service payment to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The community service payment will be earmarked for projects in the Southern District of Alabama, including Mobile Bay. Target was also sentenced to three years probation. As a condition of the probation, ships operated or managed by Target that will or may call on the United States, must be subject to an environmental compliance plan supervised by outside auditors and the court.

“Deliberate pollution and acts to conceal it are serious crimes that we will continue to vigorously prosecute,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This significant criminal fine should send a message to shipping companies worldwide that those who pollute our oceans will be held accountable.”

“This case represents a tremendous win for our environment,” said Kenyen Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. “The U.S. relies on vessel crews and their management companies to provide accurate logs and records when calling on U.S. ports to ensure oily wastes are discharged properly at sea. The U.S. is fully committed to prosecuting those cases where vessels cover-up improper oily waste discharges at sea through the use of falsified logs. This prosecution would not have been possible without the hard work of the U.S. Coast Guard at Sector Mobile and District Eight, Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division and Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.”

“This plea and sentence reflect the US Coast Guard's steadfast commitment to protecting the marine environment. We will continue to investigate violations of environmental law, working with partners at the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and others, to ensure the stewardship and health of our oceans," said Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.”

“The oceans must be protected from shipping companies that look to cut corners by dumping waste improperly,” said Maureen O’Mara, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Alabama. “The defendants in this case knowingly discharged oily waste from their vessel into the open water and tried to cover it up. Today’s guilty pleas demonstrate that the U.S. government will not tolerate the flagrant violation of its laws.”

According to papers filed in court, senior Target employees discharged and caused the overboard discharge of oily bilge waste from the M/VGaurav Prem on multiple occasions as the vessel sailed from South Korea to Mobile. The vessel departed South Korea on or about July 29, 2011, and underwent a Coast Guard inspection on Sept. 21, 2011, in Mobile. The discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required. The deliberate overboard discharges of oily waste were accomplished through the ship’s fixed bilge piping system and by using the ship’s general service pump in a manner that intentionally bypassed required pollution prevention equipment, including the ship’s oily water separator and oil content monitor, designed to detect and prevent discharges containing more than 15 parts per million (ppm) oil, the international standard. The bypass system used a “spool pipe” to connect the ship’s bilge system with the ship’s ballast system to make the illegal discharges from the vessel’s bilges and bilge holding tank.

Federal and international law requires that all ships comply with pollution regulations that include the proper disposal of oily water and sludge by passing the oily water through a separator aboard the vessel or burning the sludge in the ship’s incinerator. Federal law also requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oily water or sludge in an oil record book and to have the record book available for the U.S. Coast Guard when the vessel is within the waters of the United States.

The ship’s captain, Prastana Taohim, was convicted at a jury trial on May 17, 2012, for obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection for similar but unrelated charges. At trial, it was found that Taohim ordered the ship’s chief officer to throw hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean and not record the discharge in the ship’s garbage record book as required. Taohim then knowingly made the garbage record book available during the Coast Guard inspection on Sept. 21, 2011. The plastic pipes had previously contained insecticide and were used to fumigate a grain shipment. The jury also found the captain guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to covering up the pollution by creating a false and fictitious garbage log. The captain is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 15, 2012.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, Mobile, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, Gulf Breeze, Fla. Additional assistance was provided by the Coast Guard Sector Mobile and U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District Legal Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David O’Connell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anderson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.


July 26, 2012
Vongvichuankul was sentenced to 6 months home confinement, but was credited for time served.

Hanprap was sentenced to 12 months unsupervised probation and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.

August 15, 2012
Taohim was sentenced to 12 months and a day incarceration, followed by 36 months probation if not immediately repatriated to Thailand after his custody sentence.


Press Release

Department of Justice
Southern District of Alabama
August 15, 2012

SHIP’S CAPTAIN SENTENCED FOR OBSTRUCTING A COAST GUARD BOARDING

MOBILE –The former captain of a Panama-flagged cargo ship that discharged hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean was sentenced in the United States District Court in Mobile, Alabama, for obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection of the vessel in the Port of Mobile on Sept. 21, 2011. Prastana Taohim, the captain of the M/V Gaurav Prem, was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice during a jury trial. United States District Judge Callie V.S. Granade sentenced Prastana Taohim to one year and one day in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, followed by three years of probation if not immediately repatriated to Thailand after his custody sentence.

At trial, it was proven that crew members from the M/V Gaurav Prem had discharged hundreds of plastic pipes into the ocean. The plastic pipes previously contained insecticide to fumigate a grain shipment. The discharge of plastic into the sea is prohibited under the International Convention to Prevent Pollution from Ships known as MARPOL. The discharges of plastic were not recorded in the ship’s garbage record book, a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard. It was shown during trial that the Captain Taohim ordered the Chief Officer to throw the plastic into the sea and not record the discharge in the ship’s garbage record book. It was also shown at trial that the captain then knowingly made the garbage record book available for the September 2011 inspection. Captain Taohim was found guilty in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Alabama for obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection of the ship. The jury also found the defendant guilty of one count of obstruction of justice related to covering up the pollution by creating a false and fictitious garbage log.

"Falsifying records and attempting to hide illegal dumping are serious offenses. The Coast Guard is committed to working with our partners to hold those who break the law and threaten the health of our oceans, accountable for their actions. I applaud the professionalism and dedication of the members of the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice as they investigated, prepared, and prosecuted this case," said Rear Admiral Roy A. Nash, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District.

This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division. Additional assistance was provided by the Coast Guard Sector Mobile, and U.S. Coast Guard Eighth District Legal Office. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney David O’Connell of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Anderson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.


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

Top of page