Greek Chief Engineer Acquitted in Texas Magic Pipe Pollution Trial
A jury in Houston federal court cleared Greek Chief Engineer Ioannis Mylonakis of all five felony charges alleging he engineered the dumping of oil tanker waste off of the Texas coast in early 2009.
The jury rejected claims by U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section that Mr. Mylonakis, as chief engineer of the 40,000-ton M/T GEORGIOS M, ordered his crew to use a so-called “magic pipe” to bypass pollution control equipment and discharge sludge and oily waste into the seas near Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas.
Eight crewmembers testified for the government at the trial saying Mylonakis orchestrated the magic pipe bypass during his time on the vessel. Council for Mylonakis demonstrated the crew misled the government about the chief engineer’s involvement in return for grants of immunity. The jury found the crew members were not credible.
Presiding Judge Kenneth Hoyt struck down the testimony of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab’s expert chemist, ruling it was confusing and irrelevant. Defense presented a letter from a whistleblower alerting the government that the ship had employed a “magic pipe” in 2006. However, the US Coast Guard and the Department of Justice did not do a subsequent investigation to verify the claim. One of the crew, who signed the letter, later testified it was prepared and signed as revenge against a former company official.
George M. Chalos, a defense council member said, “There was good reason that Chief Mylonakis defiantly testified in his own defense and loudly protested the charges. He was innocent. The real shame is that the vessel’s owner and operator were trying to make Mylonakis the scapegoat and blame him for acts he didn’t do, which was compounded by the government’s failure to appreciate the facts as they truly exist and tred to convict an innocent man.”
The defense team said Mylonakis – a 48-year-old married father has not seen his daughter for more than a year while being held in the U.S.
The case is “U.S. v. Mylonakis,” Case No. 4:09-cr-00492, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Mylonakis was represented by ‘magic pipe’ specialist, George M. Chalos and George A. Gaitas, of Chalos & Co, P.C.,-International Law Firm and Joel Androphy and Kathryn Nelson, of Berg & Androphy, of Houston