Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

United States v. Abrogar

ELR Citation: 36 ELR 20170
Nos. No. 06-1215, (3d Cir., 08/18/2006)

The court vacates and remands a six-level sentencing enhancement imposed against the operator of a foreign vessel for failing to keep an accurate "oil record book" in violation of §1908(a) of the Act to Prevent Pollution From Ships, part of legislation implementing MARPOL 73/78. The operator made false entries in the oil record book in an attempt to conceal improper discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste into the ocean. Only those violations that occur in U.S. ports or waters are criminal under §1908(a). Because the improper discharges occurred outside U.S. waters or ports, they are not "relevant conduct" that can be considered as part of the offense under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. Thus, under U.S. Sentencing Guideline §2Q1.3, the offense of failing to maintain the oil record book does not "result in the repeated discharges of oily waste upon which the six-level sentencing enhancement is based. The court also rejects the government’s policy argument that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines should be used to punish substantive environmental offenses. The case is therefore vacated and remanded for resentencing.