United States District Court, D. Delaware
before me are Defendants' Motion to Suppress Evidence and
Motion to Suppress Statements by Vasileios Mazarakis (D.I.
46) and the outstanding willfulness issue in Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss Counts One, Two, Three, and Five of
Indictment, and Alternatively to Compel Election between
Counts (D.I. 51). I have already resolved Defendants'
Motion to dismiss in all other respects. (D.I. 111). The
Parties have briefed the issues. (D.I. 47, 52, 75, 76, 85,
88, 105, 106, 107). I heard argument and testimony on August
reasons discussed below, I will deny Defendants' motion
to suppress and deny Defendants' motion to dismiss based
on the government's failure to allege willfulness in the
are charged in a six-count indictment with crimes related to
environmental violations committed on board the M/V Nederland
Reefer. (See D.I. 14). The M/V Nederland Reefer is a Bahamian
flagged refrigerated cargo/container ship.
oceangoing vessels like the M/V Nederland Reefer produce a
considerable volume of oily waste. The primary types of oily
waste are sludge and bilge waste. Sludge is generated when
petroleum products are purified for use in the ship's
engines. Acceptable methods for disposing of sludge are
incineration on board the vessel or offloading at port.
waste is a mixture of oil and water that accumulates in the
bottom of the ship, a.k.a. the bilge. Oil accumulates in the
bilge as it leaks from machinery on the ship. Bilge waste is
collected, stored, and processed on the ship to remove oil
from the water before it is dumped overboard. The separation
process is completed by a device known as the Oily Water
Separator in conjunction with an Oil Content Monitor.
Pursuant to environmental regulations, water can be sent
overboard only if it is at or below 15 parts per million oil.
All discharges and internal transfers of bilge waste are
recorded in the ship's Oil Record Book.
February 15, 2019, the United States Coast Guard issued a
Captain of the Port Order to the M/V Nederland Reefer that it
would undergo a Port State Control inspection when it arrived
at Port in Delaware. The ship arrived on February 20, 2019
and was boarded by the Coast Guard inspectors on the morning
of February 21, 2019.
inspection included testing of the Oily Water Separator. At
that time, Defendant Vasileios Mazarakis served as the M/V
Nederland Reefer's Chief Engineer. He reported to the
ship's Master and supervised the engine room crew. He was
the individual responsible for the Oily Water Separator and
making entries into the Oil Record Book. Chief Mazarakis
conducted operational testing of the Oily Water Separator
under the supervision of Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer
David Turman. When water was pulled from the bilge holding
tank, Chief Mazarakis was not able to run the Oily Water
Separator without setting off the alarm on the Oil Content
Meter. The alarm meant that the water had more than 15 ppm of
oil. When Chief Mazarakis readjusted the settings, the Oily
Water Separator would run with the Oil Content Monitor
reading "zero." Following this testing, CWO Turman
concluded that further inspection of the Oily Water Separator
was necessary. That inspection led to a decision to expand
the Port State Inspection to include MARPOL compliance. In
the end, the Coast Guard completed a search of the entire
ship over the course of about a week.
result of the inspection, the Coast Guard cited the M/V
Nederland Reefer with more than a dozen deficiencies related
to the Oily Water Separator, the Bilge Holding Tank, the
vessel's incinerator, and the Oil Record Book. The Coast
Guard detained the vessel until the vessel owner provided
security authorized by 33 U.S.C. § 1908(e). The
Agreement on Security reached between the government and
entity Defendants required that the company post a $1, 000,
000 bond and included certain other non-monetary conditions,
including providing for the crew.
Mazarakis, whose first language is Greek, was interviewed in
English by Coast Guard Authorities on February 21 and 22.
Those interviews were recorded and transcribed. The February
21 interview took place in a state room and was conducted by
Chief Warrant Officer Aaron Studie and Lieutenant Thomas
McGuire. Neither CWO Studie nor Lt. McGuire was carrying a
weapon. The February 21 interview lasted 41 minutes.
February 22 interview took place in the ship's office.
The office measures approximately 10 feet by 15 feet. Four
individuals from the Coast Guard were present: CWO Studie,
Lt. McGuire, Special Agent Brent McKnight, and Special Agent
Barry Buck. Agent McKnight and Agent Buck, although dressed
in plain clothes, were carrying .40 caliber pistols.
Questioning was conducted primarily by CWO Studie and Lt.
McGuire. The door to the office was closed and only
individuals affiliated with the Coast Guard were allowed in
the room during the interview. Special Agent McKnight advised
Chief Mazarakis at the start of the interview that the door
was closed for privacy and that he was not detained. In the
middle of the interview, Agent McKnight asked Chief Mazarakis
if he had asked for a lawyer. Several minutes later, the
interview was concluded after Chief Mazarakis said he wanted
a lawyer. Testimony during the August 16, 2019 hearing was
that Chief Mazarakis complained during the interview that he
was having serious abdominal pain. The February 22 interview
lasted 42 minutes. Chief Mazarakis' shore pass was
revoked on February 22. It is not clear from the record
whether the pass was revoked before or after the February 22
Motion to Suppress
are three primary issues raised in Defendants' Motion to
Suppress: (1) whether the warrantless search of the M/V
Nederland Reefer violated Defendants' Fourth Amendment
Rights, (2) whether the Coast Guard's questioning of
Chief Mazarakis resulted in involuntary statements or