KIRO NEWSRADIO

Boeing working with DOJ to avoid criminal charges

Jun 21, 2024, 2:27 PM

Photo: The exterior of the Boeing Company headquarters on March 25, 2024....

The exterior of the Boeing Company headquarters on March 25, 2024. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images)

(Photo: Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images)

After allegedly violating the terms of a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement, Boeing is reportedly working with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to avoid a criminal trial, according to reporting in the New York Times (NYT).

The agreement came after problems with two Boeing 737-MAX-8 planes led to two crashes, which killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019.

“The Department of Justice has a slam dunk case against Boeing. In the deferred prosecution agreement, Boeing admitted enough damning facts for a conviction,” the attorney representing the victims, Mark Lindquist, told KIRO Newsradio.

Former Pierce County Prosecuting attorney Lindquist, now a private aviation attorney, represents 78 of the victims’ families.

“What the victims’ families want is accountability and justice. They want Boeing to return to the days when they made safe planes,” Lindquist said.

NYT reported the company violated the previous agreement by failing to set up and maintain a program to detect and prevent violations of U.S. anti-trust fraud laws.

“Normally, if a defendant negotiated a sweetheart plea bargain, as Boeing did here, and then violated the terms of the deal, DOJ would bring the hammer down hard,” Lindquist said.  “If DOJ doesn’t bring the hammer down here it’s because of politics, not proof of problems.”

A new agreement will likely include a federal monitor to oversee safety issues.

“However DOJ does it, they need to leverage a cultural change at Boeing,” Lindquist said.

Previous coverage: Families of those who died in Boeing crashes press DOJ for prosecution

The company agreed in 2021 to pay $2.5 billion — mostly compensation to airlines — to avoid prosecution on a fraud charge. Relatives of some of the 346 people who died in the 2018 and 2019 crashes have tried ever since to scuttle the settlement.

The Associated Press reported that a lawyer for the families said in a letter Wednesday to the DOJ that a large fine is justified “because Boeing’s crime is the deadliest corporate crime in U.S. history.”

“The victim families have little or no faith in anything Boeing says. This has been going on for five years and the problems that Boeing have continued,” Lindquist said to KIRO Newsradio. “Most of us thought that after 346 people died and Boeing was federally prosecuted, they would get their act together. They have not. As a result, the victim families have little or no faith in what Boeing says.”

A decision on the settlement is expected by month’s end.

Contributing: The Associated Press

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, or email him here.

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Boeing working with DOJ to avoid criminal charges