Families of crash victims 'strenuously object' to Biden DOJ's new 'sweetheart' plea deal for Boeing

 July 2, 2024

Aviation manufacturing giant Boeing stands accused of violating a 2021 settlement agreement that deferred criminal prosecution for conspiracy and fraud related to a pair of fatal crashes involving Boeing 737 MAX jets in 2018 and 2019.

Now comes word that President Joe Biden's Justice Department has offered Boeing a "sweetheart" plea deal to which the families of the crash victims "strenuously object," according to The Hill.

If the proposed deal falls through or is rejected, Boeing could face criminal prosecution that could not only prove financially devastating to the company but could also endanger its several major contracts with various government agencies.

Victims' families outraged over new proposed settlement for Boeing

The Hill reported about a conference call over the weekend that involved DOJ attorneys and lawyers representing crash victims' families plus some of those family members themselves to discuss the proposed plea deal with Boeing.

The agreement would purportedly include a $244 million fine, three years of probation for the company, and required oversight by a third-party monitor, plus mandatory investments in safety measure improvements and a meeting between Boeing executives and victims' families.

One of the attorneys for the families, Paul Cassell, denounced the proposal as a "sweetheart deal" that would let the company off the hook for its alleged crimes and said, "The deal will not acknowledge, in any way, that Boeing’s crime killed 346 people. It also appears to rest on the idea that Boeing did not harm any victim."

"The families will strenuously object to this plea deal," he added. "The memory of 346 innocents killed by Boeing demands more justice than this."

Prosecutors were ready to file charges last week

Ironically enough, Reuters just reported last week that federal prosecutors were making final preparations to move forward with criminal charges against Boeing over the alleged violation of the 2021 settlement that had deferred a previous effort to prosecute the company for fraud.

It is unclear how Boeing allegedly violated the prior agreement, which required the submission of regular reports and an overhaul of its compliance practices plus a $2.5 billion fine, and the company has insisted that it has adhered to the terms of the settlement.

Yet, the Reuters report also acknowledged the possibility of a new settlement to replace the 2021 agreement, and the Associated Press reported on that proposal that was finally revealed over the weekend.

That new proposal isn't sitting well with crash victims' families, however, who have demanded the company be fully prosecuted and fined upwards of $25 billion.

"The underlying outrageous piece of this deal is that it doesn’t acknowledge that Boeing’s crime killed 346 people," attorney Cassell told the AP in reference to the 2018 and 2019 crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively. "Boeing is not going to be held accountable for that, and they are not going to admit that that happened."

Boeing insists it has complied with prior deal

As for Boeing, it told The Hill last month that it has fully complied with the 2021 settlement and said of the rumors of a new proposal, "We believe that we have honored the terms of that agreement and look forward to the opportunity to respond to the Department on this issue."

Dave Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, even issued a blanket apology to victims' families, albeit without admitting guilt, during congressional testimony last month, when he told lawmakers and family members, "I want to personally apologize, on behalf of everyone at Boeing. We are deeply sorry for your losses. Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who step on board our airplanes. Every day, we seek to honor the memory of those lost through a steadfast commitment to safety and quality."

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