Sunday, January 6, 2008

More (In)Justice Department Snake Oil

"The unprecedented plea agreement negotiated by my office with BP seeks not only to punish BP for its knowing criminal conduct through a record-setting fine, but also imposes a three-year-term of probation during which BP must address its poor maintenance record and provide a safe work environment at an estimated cost of more than $265 million above and beyond the billion dollars already spent on the refinery. ... However, to fully appreciate the significance of this unprecedented agreement, one must understand the applicable criminal law. ... The Alternative Fines Act, which applies to environmental cases against corporations, limits fines to pecuniary gain derived from the offense, which in this case, is the gain resulting from the exploded ISOM unit, one of the least profitable of all units, not the profits from the entire plant. The $50 million fine negotiated by this office is ... the largest fine ever assessed under the Clean Air Act against a single corporation", Donald DeGabrielle (DD), US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, in the Houston Chronicle, 29 December.

Get out your violin and crying towel for BP. With many federal statutes availiable, all DD came up with is a Clear Air Act violation? DD, you can do better than this. Could you charge BP under civil RICO using wire and mail fraud predicates, and let a jury decide what was the "pecuniary gain derived" from the conduct in question. If a jury decided $1 billion, tripled we get a $3 billion payout! Deferring to Jesse Jackson again, see my 31 October 2007 post. DD writes, "plea agreement negotiated by my office with BP". Why negotiate? Draft say, a 100-predicate act civil suit and try the case. This is "our" (In)Justice Department that sent Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean to prison for 11 and 12 years respectively and prosecuted Michael Vick, see my 22 December 2007 post and Martha Stewart. Amazing!


Tom Stone said...

Why are you surprised? This administration has explicitly repudiated the Rule of Law...the "Unitary Executive" fits the definition of Tyrant quite well,and the job of the "Justice Department" is to enforce the will of the "Unitary Executive".

Independent Accountant said...

I am not surprised at all.