NOT GUILTY!! Chief Engineer Acquitted in Texas 'Magic Pipe' Pollution Trial
HOUSTON, April 28 -- A jury in Houston federal court cleared Greek Chief Engineer Ioannis Mylonakis of all five (5) felony charges that 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. Mr. 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.
At trial, eight (8) crewmembers testified for the government that Mr. Mylonakis orchestrated the magic pipe bypass during his tenure on the vessel. The defense team demonstrated that the crew misled the government about the involvement of Mylonakis in return for grants of immunity. The jury found that the Filipino crewmembers were not credible.
In an extraordinary ruling, presiding Judge Kenneth Hoyt struck the testimony of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab's expert chemist, ruling it confusing and irrelevant. Mr. Mylonakis' defense presented a letter from a former whistleblower alerting the government to the use of "magic pipe" equipment in 2006, but there was no indication of a subsequent investigation by the Coast Guard or the DOJ. A crew witness who signed the letter testified it was prepared and signed as revenge against a former company official.
Defense counsel, George M. Chalos, said, "There was good reason that Chief Mylonakis defiantly testified in his own defense and loudly protested the charges. He is innocent. The real shame of this case was the vessel's owner and operator trying to scapegoat and blame Mr. Mylonakis for acts he didn't do, which was compounded by the government's failure to appreciate the facts as they truly exist and its decision to try to convict an innocent man."
Attorney, Joel M. Androphy, said, "This is an extremely rare defense victory. What we showed demonstrated that the crew misled the government about the involvement of Chief Mylonakis in return for grants of immunity."
The defense team said Mr. Mylonakis – a 48-year-old married father who had not seen his daughter in more than a year while being held in the U.S. – has had an exemplary 30-year maritime career.
As for future civil actions by Chief Mylonakis against Styga, Mr Chalos said: "The company pled guilty, blamed our client without good cause, and just threw him under the bus for their own benefit. I will be in Greece soon and expect to visit the Mamidakis clan [Styga's owners] when I get there. They have an awful lot of explaining to do here and better start undertaking the necessary preparations to try to make up for their absurd actions and the damages they have needlessly caused to Mylonakis family. If they don't, they are going to get it with both barrels."
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.