Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cosco Busan Pilot to Jail......

John Joseph Cota, a California ship pilot, pleaded guilty on March 6 to negligently causing the discharge of approximately 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay in violation of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a law enacted in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Cota, who piloted the M/V Cosco Busan when it hit the San Francisco Bay Bridge on Nov. 7, 2007, also pleaded guilty to violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for the death of protected migratory birds.If the plea terms are accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston, Cota will be sentenced to serve between two and ten months in prison and be fined between $3,000 to $30,000. The exact sentence will be determined by the court with the government reserving the right to argue for the highest sentence within this range. The plea also requires Cota to serve the maximum one year of supervised release during which he will not serve as a ship pilot or ship Captain (Master). Sentencing has been scheduled for June 19, 2009."Today's guilty plea is a reminder that the Cosco Busan crash was not just an accident, but a criminal act," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This is not a case involving a mere mistake. The lesson here is that environmental stewards, who abandon ship, act negligently and cause major environmental damage will be vigorously prosecuted."

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