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Feds: Sanford’s "dumping" not one time occurrence

fili@samoanews.com

U.S. prosecutors have asked the federal court in Washington D.C. to allow the government to admit, during trial, certain evidence against New Zealand-based Sanford Limited, that faces federal charges relating to its vessel San Nikunau, whose crew members allegedly dumped bilge waste into the ocean, while fishing in the waters of American Samoa.

Sanford with two senior crew members, Rolando Ong Vano and James Pogue, are charged in a seven count superseding indictment, handed down earlier this year.  Among the charges is failure to accurately maintain an Oil Record Book, obstruction of justice and discharge without proper pollution prevention equipment. 

The offenses covered in the indictment, is for the period of November 2006 through July 2011.

However, federal prosecutors said in a motion filed Mar. 21 with the federal court in Washington D.C., that several witnesses the government will call during trial later this year, served on the San Nikunau prior to November 2006.

Sanford purchased the vessel in July 2001 and began operating it with Pogue serving as chief engineer. During that time frame, several crew-members, who are witnesses for the government, were serving on the vessel and have continued to serve on the vessel until July 2011, the government points out.

“The government intends to prove that the pattern and practice of dumping machinery space bilge waste directly over the side of the vessel [San Nikunau] without using the Oil Water Separator was continuous ever since Sanford Ltd. purchased and began operating the vessel,” the motion states. “...the government intends to prove through crew-member witnesses that the conspiracy began around that time and continued on until at least July 15, 2011.”

According to prosecutors, the pattern and practice of discharging machinery space bilge waste without using the Oil Water Separator was ongoing and continuous throughout that time frame, and the Oil Record Book was routinely and continuously falsified.

Prosecutors said that expected testimony by crew-members say they began discharging bilge waste overboard without using the Oil Water Separator prior to November 25, 2006 and such testimony would be direct evidence of the ongoing conspiracy charged in the indictment, and thus admissible evidence.

“Such evidence is strong proof that the defendants had knowledge of the illegal conduct because it was ongoing for years, and that it was not a mistake or accident that occurred only a few times during the years that Sanford Ltd. owned the San Nikunau,” said prosecutors who asked the court to allow the government to admit such evidence during trial.



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