Italian Shipowner and Chief Engineer Charged in “Magic Pipe” Case

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March 6, 2012

Italian-based shipping company Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company S.P.A., owner and operator of the M/V Bottiglieri Challenger, and Vito La Forgia, the vessel’s chief engineer, have been charged in a four-count indictment alleging the illegal dumping of waste oil and oil-contaminated waste water in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), conspiracy and two counts of obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice announced today.

According to the indictment, on or about Jan. 25, 2012, the Bottiglieri Challenger arrived in Mobile, Ala., and was boarded by Coast Guard officials for a routine compliance inspection when they uncovered evidence that the company, acting through its agents and employees and chief engineer Vito La Forgia, conspired to and failed to maintain an accurate oil record book reflecting all disposals of oil residue and discharges overboard.

Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company and Vito La Forgia are also charged in the indictment with obstructing the Coast Guard’s inspection by ordering that an illegal bypass pipe, or “magic pipe,” that was used to transfer oil-contaminated waste overboard, be removed prior the vessel’s arrival in Mobile.  The indictment also alleges that the shipping company and La Forgia obstructed the inspection by having one of the waste tanks rinsed out with sea water before reaching the port in Mobile.

If convicted, Giuseppe Bottiglieri Shipping Company faces a fine and other possible penalties. La Forgia faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for the obstruction of justice charge.

The case is the latest in a string of “magic pipe” pollution cases and cover-ups uncovered by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Past cases have resulted in millions of dollars in fines and jail time.

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