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DOJ to present Boeing with plea deal that families of 2018, 2019 crash victims say falls short

The Department of Justice is preparing to present the Boeing Company a plea deal that would again allow the aerospace giant to avoid a trial over an alleged conspiracy to defraud the United States, according to attorneys for families of victims of two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes who were briefed on the department’s plans Sunday afternoon.

Under the proposed deal, Boeing would be required to enter a guilty plea to the conspiracy charge, which was first filed January 2021, for allegedly misleading the FAA during its evaluation of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. The company must also agree to the appointment of an external corporate monitor, pay a fine of about $200 million and remain on probation for three years, according to lawyers for the families.

During the briefing with the DOJ, family members of the crash victims expressed dissatisfaction with the proposal, according to attorneys representing the families. The families contend that the deal contains no accountability and no admission that Boeing’s alleged conspiracy caused the deaths of 346 people who were killed in the two Max crashes in 2018 and 2019. The victims’ families have been pushing DOJ to take the company to trial and to impose fines upwards of $20 billion.

“The Justice Department is preparing to offer to Boeing another sweetheart plea deal,” wrote attorneys Robert Clifford and Paul Cassell in a statement. “The deal will not acknowledge, in any way, that Boeing’s crime killed 346 people. It also appears to rest on the idea that Boeing did not harm any victim. The families will strenuously object to this plea deal. Judge [Reed] O’Connor [of the Northern District of Texas] will have to decide whether this no-accountability-deal is in the public interest. Indeed, he will have to decide whether to approve [an agreement] that ties his hands at sentencing and prevents him from imposing any additional punishment or remedial measures. The memory of 346 innocents killed by Boeing demands more justice than this.”