Boeing Cuts A Deal With The Government To Plead Guilty To Fraud And Misleading Aviation Regulators In Exchange For A Slap On The Wrist

WSJ - Boeing agreed to plead guilty to misleading air-safety regulators in the run-up to two deadly 737 MAX crashes, a stunning concession that would brand the world’s biggest aerospace company a felon.

Boeing will formally acknowledge guilt and accept fresh punishment over its dealings with the Federal Aviation Administration before two 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people, according to a late Sunday court filing.

As part of a plea to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., prosecutors have asked the company to pay a second $244 million criminal fine and spend $455 million over the next three years to improve its compliance and safety programs. Boeing also must hire an independent monitor for three years to oversee those improvements. A court still needs to sign off on the plea agreement.

Pleading guilty creates business challenges for Boeing. Companies with felony convictions can be suspended or barred as defense contractors. Boeing is expected to seek a waiver from that consequence. The company was awarded Defense Department contracts last year valued at $22.8 billion, according to federal data.

Also as part of the plea agreement, Boeing’s board of directors agreed to meet with victims’ family members.

The plea deal falls short of what families of the MAX crash victims had wanted. They had asked federal prosecutors to seek a fine as high as about $25 billion, prosecute Boeing at trial without concessions, and pursue other charges against the company and executives they believe are responsible for the crashes. Justice Department officials have told the families they faced various legal hurdles, including a statute of limitations and a lack of evidence to prove alternative charges such as manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt. An earlier attempt to prosecute a Boeing employee over the allegations failed at trial.

The company faces three years of court-supervised probation during which it could face additional penalties if it fails to comply with the terms. The decision was disclosed in a filing by the Justice Department in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas. Prosecutors asked the court to schedule a hearing in July on the plea agreement.

In a move nobody could have saw coming, the federal government has cut a deal with Boeing and let them off the hook for decades of gross negligence. Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to misleading air-safety regulators, an admission tied to the tragic 737 MAX crashes that claimed 346 lives. 

This concession brands the world’s largest aerospace company a fucking felon, but the real question is- does this punishment fit the crime? The answer, flat out, is no.

Giphy Images.

Is anybody going to jail over this?

Giphy Images.

Definitely not.

By pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., Boeing sidesteps the critical, rigorous process of a trial. This might be news to some, but trials serve as a public forum where evidence is presented, witnesses are cross-examined, and facts are scrutinized. The guilty plea, essentially, spares Boeing this intense examination, shielding it from further damaging revelations and accountability. It’s a safety net that allows them to avoid the full brunt of legal scrutiny. It's a bulletproof vest that shields them from further lawsuits and more whistleblowers coming forward to testify. (And more of them to silence.)

Fun Fact - did all the people out there who call the people who think Boeing silences whistleblowers "conspiracy theorists" know that last month, Boeing's CEO admitted on record that Boeing silences whistleblowers? Yah, good stuff. 

By agreeing to a plea deal, Boeing has effectively closed the door on discovery. (AKA the process where both sides must disclose all relevant information. Info that can unearth hidden truths and validate the claims of whistleblowers)

This move silences those who risked their careers and personal safety to expose the company’s wrongdoing, burying their crucial revelations and preventing a deeper investigation into the systemic failures that led to the crashes.

This is a get out of jail free card in the sense that this protects Boeing from criminalizing themselves even further. Many critics and analysts have repeatedly said that the whistleblower testimony we the public have heard so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

What a crock of shit.

Now the company’s actions and decisions won’t be subjected to the probing questions that could reveal the extent of their negligence and misconduct. This avoidance of cross-examination is a disservice to the victims’ families and the public, who deserve to see a full and transparent investigation.

Boeing will now have to pay a $244 million criminal fine, spend $455 million over three years to "improve compliance and safety programs," and be monitored by an independent overseer (who I'm sure will be independent and have zero ties to Boeing or a lobbying firm). ALL of this pales in comparison to the gravity of the crime. Three years of court-supervised probation is a laughably lenient punishment for actions that led to the deaths of 346 people. It’s a mere slap on the wrist for a company that generated $66 billion in revenue last year.


(Sidebar- is $244 million even the price Boeing charges for a 747?)

This all does more than just protect Boeing from harsher penalties. It provides them with a bulletproof vest against true accountability. The plea deal allows Boeing to avoid the harsher consequences that a trial and potential conviction would bring. The victims’ families had called for a $25 BILLION DOLLAR fine and for Boeing to be prosecuted at trial without concessions. Instead, they received a deal that falls woefully short of real justice. It lets the company escape the full measure of justice, silences whistleblowers, and erodes public trust in the legal system’s ability to hold powerful corporations accountable.

p.s. - lol at "as part of the plea deal, Boeing's board of directors agreed to meet with families of the victims"… You mean they haven't met with them already? Like right after they died? Nothing shows you care like being forced by the courts to do it.