Tanker officer gets prison term in pollution case

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey:

(NEWARK, N.J.) — A senior engineering officer employed by an Italian shipping company was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for deliberately concealing a vessel’s discharge of oily waste into the sea, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Girolamo Curatolo, 50, of Custonaci, Sicily, the chief engineer of an oil tanker, M/T Cielo di Milano, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to violate the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. Wigenton imposed the sentence Monday in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The vessel, owned by D’Amico Shipping Italia S.p.A. and managed by D’Amico Societa di Navigazione S.p.A., visited ports in New Jersey multiple times, as well as ports in Maryland and Florida.

Curatolo admitted that the crew had intentionally bypassed required pollution prevention equipment by discharging oily waste from the engine room through its sewage system into the sea. He also admitted that he falsified the vessel’s oil record book, a required log regularly inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Curatolo admitted he made false statements to the Coast Guard during its inspection of M/T Cielo di Milano in January 2015, instructing lower-level crewmembers to make false statements and destroying the vessel’s sounding log — which records the contents of storage tanks aboard the vessel, including those containing oily waste — by ripping the pages out and burning it in the vessel’s boiler after the Coast Guard had boarded the vessel.

In addition to the prison term, Wigenton sentenced Curatolo to one year of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine.

Danilo Maimone, 31, of Furci Siculo, Sicily, the ship’s first assistant engineer, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with conspiring to obstruct justice. Maimone admitted concealing the discharge of oily waste as well as causing a false oil record book to be presented to the Coast Guard during its inspection of the vessel. He also admitted making false statements and instructing lower-level crewmembers to do the same during the January 2015 inspection. Maimone is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 18, 2017.

Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Cox, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. 

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathleen P. O’Leary and Kelly Graves of the U.S. Attorney’s Office General Crimes Unit in Newark, and trial attorneys Brandy Parker and John Cashman of the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division.

By Professional Mariner Staff