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Boeing To Take Plea Deal With Justice Dept Over Deadly Plane Crashes

Last Updated 2 weeks by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States after it was charged over two crashes involving the company’s planes in which hundreds of people died, according to the Justice Department. 

In a Sunday court filing, the Justice Department said that Boeing had agreed to pay a $487.2 million fine and invest $455 million in compliance and safety programs. The charges come after the government said Boeing violated a safety and inspection agreement with the DOJ. A judge has yet to approve the plea deal. 

The agreement comes after two of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8s were involved in two fatal crashes. Nearly 200 people were killed in a crash near Indonesia in the Java Sea in 2018, and 157 individuals died in a crash in Ethiopia the following year. 

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“The parties have agreed in principle to the material terms of a plea agreement that would, among other things, hold Boeing accountable for its material misstatements to the Federal Aviation Administration, require Boeing to pay the statutory maximum fine, require Boeing to invest at least $455 million in its compliance and safety programs, impose an independent compliance monitor, and allow the Court to determine the restitution amount for the families in its discretion, consistent with applicable law,” the DOJ said in a filing to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. 

The proposed deal has already faced criticism from family members of the crash victims.

“This sweetheart deal fails to recognize that because of Boeing’s conspiracy, 346 people died,” lawyer Paul Cassell said. “Through crafty lawyering between Boeing and DOJ, the deadly consequences of Boeing’s crime are being hidden.”

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In a statement, Boeing said it had reached a preliminary agreement with the government.  

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In the filing, the government said it had met with victims’ families before reaching the plea deal. 

“Before this plea agreement was reached, the Government afforded the families numerous opportunities to communicate and express their views, personally and through counsel, and the families meaningfully and substantially participated in conferral meetings,” lawyers for the Justice Department said. “Indeed, the Government formulated the plea offer based in part on the feedback that it received during conferral sessions and communications with the families and Boeing’s airline customers that purchased the 737 MAX (‘airline customers’) during the past few months.”

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Boeing has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months as Congress has held hearings on the quality of Boeing’s airplanes amid a series of high-profile accidents.

Two Boeing whistleblowers who accused the company of wrongdoing died this year, including one just after he testified against the company. 

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