Local federal prosecutors honored in Washington

The SE Texas Record Oct. 4, 2007, 11:53am

BEAUMONT, TX � Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph R. Batte of Beaumont and John Malcolm Bales of Lufkin were honored Oct. 2 at the Justice Department's 55th Annual Awards Ceremony at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., along with 191 Justice Department employees and 26 other individuals.

Batte and Bales were recognized for their extraordinary assistance in the prosecution of a major shipping company for deliberate vessel pollution.

"Today's award recipients are extraordinarily dedicated and talented men and women," said Peter Keisler, Acting Attorney General. "They've made incredible sacrifices, and achieved great successes, working on the front lines of the Justice Department on behalf of the American people. I'm proud to have them as my colleagues as we work to advance the Department's mission."

Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG) was sentenced on June 20, 2007, in Beaumont to pay $10 million as part of a $37 million criminal settlement with the United States involving 33 felony counts, 12 oil tankers and ports located in Beaumont, Boston, Portland, San Francisco, and Wilmington, NC.

The Overseas Shipholding Group Team was presented with the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service for its outstanding achievement in obtaining the largest-ever criminal penalty in a case involving deliberate pollution from ships and the intentional falsification of ship records.

"I would like to congratulate Joe and Malcolm for this deserving honor and thank them for bringing distinction to our district," said John Ratcliffe, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. "Their recognition for this award underscores the fact that some of the best federal prosecutors in the nation work right here in the Eastern District of Texas."

The total $37 million penalty is the largest-ever involving deliberate vessel pollution and was announced on Dec. 19, 2006 in Boston. The charges involving 12 OSG oil tankers range from June 2001 to March 2006 and include violations of the Clean Water Act, as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, conspiracy, false statements, and obstruction of justice.

In pleading guilty, OSG admitted that it deliberately falsified the Oil Record Book of various ships, a required log in which all overboard discharges are to be accurately recorded, made discharges at night, and concealed bypass methods used to circumvent required pollution prevention equipment during U.S. port calls so that the Coast Guard would not discover the criminal activity.

The Attorney General's Annual Awards Ceremony provides an opportunity to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of a number of U.S. Department of Justice employees as well as individuals from outside the Department.

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