Shipping company wants to plead no contest for oil spill

The shipping company that operated the Cosco Busan when the container ship slammed into the Bay Bridge told a judge it doesn’t want to contest federal criminal charges that it negligently caused an oil spill and then misled investigators.

Fleet Management is facing more than $3 million in fines if convicted on the federal misdemeanor and felony charges and it is also being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice about the Nov. 7 oil spill in the Bay.

“The purpose of the plea is to fairly resolve the criminal case,” Fleet Management attorney Marc Greenberg wrote in court documents filed this week. “Disallowing it will unquestionably impact Fleet’s ability to receive a fair judgment in the civil matters now pending.”

Attorneys representing members of the Chinese crew have acknowledged in court statements that their clients falsified documents, including a passage plan to guide the 900-foot ship from Oakland to South Korea, after the collision.

The attorneys in court documents said the crew members were following orders from more senior Fleet Management officials.

Greenberg in his filings laid much of the blame for the crash on other parties, including Petaluma pilot Capt. John Cota, a co-defendant in the criminal case scheduled to begin Nov. 17.

Cota’s attorney, Jeffrey Bornstein, said the filing showed that Fleet Management’s attorneys “don’t have a defense in the criminal case and so they want to try and dispose of it, but to do it in a way that does not involve pleading guilty.”

Bornstein has previously asked U.S. District Judge Susan Illston to order separate trials for Cota and Fleet Management because the company intends to base its defense on “character assassination” of his client.

Illston is charged with deciding whether to allow the plea.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Sheriff candidate Paul Miyamoto in a meeting with the Examiner editorial board on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New shelter-in-place order gives tenants a temporary reprieve from eviction

Sheriff’s Department briefly resumed regular enforcement this week

Under stay-at-home orders effective Sunday in San Francisco, outdoor dining is not allowed, and there are new limits regarding the number of people that can be indoors at essential businesses. <ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Bay Area counties to shut down outdoor dining, non-essential businesses

Regional stay-at-home order to take effect Sunday, sooner than statewide order announced Thursday

Former Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant received his 2017-18 Championship ring at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Oct. 16, 2018. Durant, now playing with the Brooklyn Nets, will play against his former team at Chase Center in February. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Kevin Durant to face former teammates at Chase Center in February

Schedule released Friday calls for Warriors to play Christmas and New Year’s Day games

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert’s (31) return from injury last week was key for the team’s offense. <ins>(Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
49ers fighting for final NFC wild-card spot in Monday’s game against the Bills

Bills at 49ers When: Monday, 5:15 p.m. Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale,… Continue reading

The Smashing Pumpkins’ 2020 recording is the 20-song “CYR.” (Courtesy photo)
Billy Corgan continues to confound expectations

Smashing Pumpkins release retro-sounding ‘CYR’

Most Read