Car Carrier Chief Engineer Pleads Guilty in ‘Magic Pipe’ Case

MV Selene Leader. File Photo (c) MarineTraffic/A. Modersitski
MV Selene Leader. File Photo (c) MarineTraffic/A. Modersitzki

The chief engineer of a car carrier has pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, to obstruction of justice and violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

Noly Torato Vidad was the chief engineer of the Panama-flagged MV Selene Leader, operated by Hachiuma Steamship Co LTD, a Japanese company, between August 2013 and the end of January 2014.

According to the plea aggreement, in January 2014, engine room crew members of the M/V Selene Leader under the supervision of Chief Engineer Vidad used a so-called ‘magic pipe’, which in this case was a rubber hose, to bypass the oil water separator and discharge oily wastes overboard into the ocean.

When the Coast Guard boarded the vessel in Baltimore on Jan. 31, 2014, Vidad tried to obstruct the Coast Guard’s investigation and hide the illegal discharges of oil by falsifying the oil record book, destroying documents, lying to Coast Guard investigators and instructing subordinate crew members to lie to the Coast Guard.

Vidad’s sentencing has been scheduled for February 20, 2015.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney P. Michael Cunningham of the District of Maryland and Senior Trial Attorney David P. Kehoe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.