Engineer pleads guilty in oily water discharge case
The former chief engineer of an American-flagged car-carrier pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal charges related to the deliberate discharge of oil-contaminated bilge waste through a “magic pipe” that bypassed required pollution prevention equipment.
The Justice Department said Patrick Brown, former chief engineer of the Fidelio, renamed the Patriot, pleaded guilty before Judge William M. Nickerson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to conspiracy and making a false statement in a ship’s Oil Record Book.
Brown was employed by Pacific Gulf Marine Inc. (PGM), a vessel operator based in Gretna, La., that previously pleaded guilty to its role in deliberately discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil-contaminated bilge waste from four of its giant car-carrier ships, including the Fidelio, the government said.
PGM was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2007, to pay $1 million in criminal fines and $500,000 in community service, and serve three years of probation under the terms of an environmental compliance plan that includes audits by an outside firm that, in turn, are reviewed by a court-appointed monitor.
Brown is the fifth chief engineer to plead guilty or be convicted by a jury in the continuing investigation.