Families of Boeing victims object to its proposed 'sweetheart plea deal' with the DOJ, attorney says

Families of Boeing victims object to its proposed 'sweetheart plea deal' with the DOJ, attorney says
  • Boeing earlier reached a deferred prosecution deal with the DOJ for two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

  • The DOJ now plans to charge Boeing with fraud after officials found Boeing violated that deal.

  • The new plea deal doesn't hold Boeing accountable for the deaths, an attorney for the families told BI.

Families of the victims of the two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes are denouncing a plea deal the Justice Department is preparing to offer the airplane manufacturer, an attorney representing some of those families told Business Insider.

Federal prosecutors have given Boeing until the end of the week to accept the deal and plead guilty to fraud or risk going to trial in relation to the two fatal crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019, sources told Bloomberg.

The Justice Department notified the victims' families and their attorneys on Sunday of the end-of-week deadline, the sources said.

Spokespeople for the DOJ and Boeing did not immediately return a request for comment from Business Insider.

Paul Cassell, an attorney for 15 of the victims' families, told Business Insider in an email that the DOJ's offer is "another sweetheart plea deal," to which the families vehemently object.

According to Cassell, the details of the agreement, which the DOJ has not yet made public, include a "small fine," a three-year term of probation, and a corporate monitor, but "no recognition of 346 deaths."

"The deal will not acknowledge, in any way, that Boeing's crime killed 346 people," Cassell wrote to BI. "It also appears to rest on the idea that Boeing did not harm any victim. The families will strenuously object to this plea deal."

Boeing had initially avoided a fraud charge related to the two fatal crashes — one near the coast of Indonesia and another in Ethiopia — after agreeing to a $2.5 billion settlement in a deferred prosecution agreement.

Along with the fine, the airplane manufacturer had to agree to a strict "compliance program," according to a DOJ press release from 2021. The agreement required Boeing to meet with the DOJ's Fraud Section and submit annual reports on "remediation efforts."

But in May, investigators accused Boeing of violating the terms of the agreement, once again exposing the company to criminal charges.

US prosecutors recommended the DOJ file federal criminal charges against Boeing, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

With the DOJ's potential plea deal for Boeing, a judge "will have to decide whether this no-accountability-deal is in the public interest," Cassell wrote to BI.

"The memory of 346 innocents killed by Boeing demands more justice than this," he wrote.

Read the original article on Business Insider