After a five-day jury trial, Chief Engineer Denys Korotkiy has been found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, and failure to maintain accurate records for the M/V Donald.
The company operating the vessel, Interunity Management (Deutschland) GMBH, had previously pleaded guilty to maintaining false and incomplete records related to the discharge of oily bilge water.
The evidence presented in court revealed that Korotkiy and others engaged in the illegal dumping of oily bilge water directly into the ocean through the vessel’s sewage holding tank, bypassing the required pollution prevention equipment.
Oily bilge water typically contains oil contamination from the vessel’s machinery operation and cleaning. These illicit discharges were not documented in the vessel’s Oil Record Book, as mandated by law. Additionally, Korotkiy was found to have made false entries in the Oil Record Book, falsely claiming transfers of oily bilge had occurred when they had not. He also conspired with others to impede the United States Coast Guard’s inspection and investigation into the mishandling of oily bilge water on board the motor vessel Donald.
Following the trial, Chief Engineer Korotkiy was remanded to custody, and his sentencing is scheduled for September 1.
“Unlawful oil discharges can cause immeasurable harm to the marine environment,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We will continue to work closely with our agency partners to safeguard our oceans by vigorous enforcement of environmental laws. Today’s case is a reflection of that commitment.”
Grossman thanked the prosecution team and the U.S. Coast Guard for their excellent work on this case.
“The illegal discharge of oily bilge water at sea and the falsification and destruction of records in order to obstruct the United States’ ability to investigate those discharges are crimes we take seriously,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with our partner agencies to ensure polluters are held fully accountable.”
In a related matter, Interunity Management (Deutschland) GMBH pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships for inaccurately maintaining the Donald’s Oil Record Book. As part of the plea agreement, the company will pay a total fine of $1.25 million, serve a four-year probation period, and implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan for any vessels operated by the company calling on U.S. ports. The plea agreement also requires a community service payment of $312,500 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which will be used for research at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Preserve.
“This prosecution highlights the Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard’s dedication in safeguarding our oceans against those that seek to deliberately harm our natural resources,” said Captain James Spitler, Sector Commander, Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “Illegal dumping of oil and falsification of oil record books are egregious violations. This guilty verdict should serve as a reminder that the Coast Guard and our partners at the Department of Justice will work tirelessly to hold accountable those that seek to deliberately discharge oil and falsify records.”
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego and the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson and Senior Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section are prosecuting the case.
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