A federal grand jury in Oakland indicted FGL Moon Marshall Limited (“FGL Moon”), Unix Line Pte Ltd. (“Unix”), and Gilbert Dela Cruz, charging the defendants with failing to maintain an Oil Record Book for bilge water discharges into the sea and with obstruction of justice, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service Special Agent in Charge Kelly S. Hoyle.
The indictment alleges that the Zao Galaxy, a 16,408 gross-ton, ocean-going motor tanker, was owned by FGL Moon Marshall Limited, a Marshall Islands company, and operated by Unix Line Pte Ltd., a Singapore company.
An affidavit filed by an agent of the Coast Guard Investigative Service in connection with an earlier-filed criminal complaint further alleges that, on January 21, 2019, the Zao Galaxy set sail from the Philippines and, on February 10, 2019, the ship arrived at a port in Richmond, Calif., bearing a cargo of palm oil.
According to the indictment, Dela Cruz, 37, a citizen of the Philippines, was the First Assistant Engineer on the Zao Galaxy’s vessel crew and acted as an employee and agent of both FGL Moon and Unix. Dela Cruz was responsible for making entries into the ship’s Oil Record Book and for the operation of the ship’s equipment used for treatment and discharge of oil-contaminated water.
The complaint affidavit further alleges that, when the ship reached Richmond, examiners from the Coast Guard boarded the ship to conduct an inspection and previously-scheduled examination. As a result of that examination, investigators discovered videos showing that approximately four illegal overboard discharges of oily waste had occurred from the Zao Galaxy’s engine room between the last week of January 2019 and February 11, 2019. According to the affidavit, the ship’s location data suggested that one of the illegal dumping events occurred when the Zao Galaxy was approximately three nautical miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The complaint affidavit additionally alleges that Dela Cruz had ordered another crew member to perform the illegal overboard discharge at night to facilitate the emptying, cleaning, and repainting of the Zao Galaxy’s Primary Bilge Tank prior to the Coast Guard’s examination. Dela Cruz is also alleged to have ordered another crew member to use a flange/hose system to facilitate the dumping of the oily waste while avoiding the ship’s normal oily waste management system. The Zao Galaxy’s Oil Record Book contained no entries documenting these illegal discharges of oily waste. The indictment also alleges that Dela Cruz attempted to persuade a lower-level crewmember to withhold relevant information regarding the dumping from the Coast Guard.
Complaints and indictments merely allege that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants face the following maximum penalties:
However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
The defendants are scheduled to appear on October 29, 2019, at 10:30 a.m., for an initial federal court appearance and arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Katherine Lloyd-Lovett and Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Briggs, with the assistance of Jessica Rodriguez. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Investigations Division of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.
Source: Maritime Shipping News