On Wednesday November 16, 2022, a twelve (12) person federal jury sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana returned a unanimous verdict in New Orleans, Louisiana; finding Chief Engineer Warlito Tan, Jr. NOT GUILTY on all four (4) felony counts against him. The government charged Chief Tan with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, Obstruction of Justice, and Obstructing a Coast Guard Investigation. The jury heard testimony from fourteen (14) witnesses over the course of seven (7) days. Chief Tan testified in his own defense and explained passionately to the jury that at all times he believed he was properly operating the oily water separator on board the vessel and that he never knowingly made any inaccurate entries in the oil record book. He further explained that he fully cooperated with the U.S. Coast Guard, never lied to the port state investigators, and returned on two (2) separate occasions to the U.S. to defend the charges against him, despite having been permitted to return home to the Philippines to attend to family matters while the case was pending over the past eighteen (18) months.
The jury rejected the testimony and evidence of the Coast Guard inspectors, investigators, and the retained expert hired by the Department of Justice. Chief Tan’s testimony was clearly compelling to the jury as they returned the NOT GUILTY verdict in less than three hours.