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April 28, 2010

Officer acquitted in "magic pipe" case

A jury in Houston federal court today cleared Greek maritime officer Ioannis Mylonakis of charges that he engineered the dumping of oil tanker waste off of the Texas coast in early 2009, according to the Berg & Androphy law firm.

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 is represented by lead attorneys Joel Androphy and Kathryn Nelson, of Berg & Androphy, of Houston, and assisted by George M. Chalos and George A. Gaitas, of Chalos & Co., P.C., of New York.

Eight crew members 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," says a press release issued by Berg & Androphy. "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.

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. There was good reason that he defiantly testified in his own defense and loudly protested the charges. He is innocent. Justice was finally done today."

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.

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.


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