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Department of Justice to decide whether to prosecute Boeing over alleged agreement violation

This week, the DOJ says Boeing did not hold up their end of the bargain, and now it's a possibility the company could face charges.
A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight
Posted at 8:33 PM, May 15, 2024

In 2021, after two new Boeing 737 Max jets crashed, killing 346 people in separate incidents, a deal was struck between the planemaker and the Department of Justice: Boeing would avoid criminal charges by paying billions and promising to find and prevent future violations of anti-fraud laws.

This week, the DOJ says Boeing did not hold up their end of the bargain, and now it's a possibility the company could face charges.

On Tuesday a letter filed in Texas federal court by the Justice Department's criminal division accused Boeing of failing to "fulfill completely the terms and obligations" of the 2021 Deferred Prosecution Agreement, or DPA.

It says Boeing did not make the changes it promised to find and prevent anti-fraud violations.

After the crashes, as a part of the DPA, Boeing paid $2.5 billion to the DOJ and the government did not go forward with charging Boeing with defrauding regulators after it said the company made changes to a flight-control system on the 737 Max without telling pilots or airlines.

There's no word yet on whether the government will now prosecute Boeing.

The Boeing logo.

U.S. News

DOJ says Boeing violated deal that avoided prosecution after 737 Max crashes

AP via Scripps News
7:31 PM, May 14, 2024

In a statement, Boeing denied violating the DPA, telling Scripps News in part: "We believe that we have honored the terms of that agreement, and look forward to the opportunity to respond to the Department on this issue. As we do so, we will engage with the Department with the utmost transparency, as we have throughout the entire term of the agreement, including in response to their questions following the Alaska Airlines 1282 accident."

Robert Clifford is the lead counsel on behalf of crash victims' families in a separate civil action against the planemaker.

He says this news from the DOJ vindicates the families who feel like they didn't get justice in what he calls a sweetheart deal between Boeing and the government.

"I've been hearing from these families around the world all the last 24 hours about how heartened they are to know that America is not broken and that our system of justice is there to defend, and prosecute where necessary and appropriate," he said.

Clifford says the next step is a scheduled meeting between the DOJ and families on May 31 in Washington, D.C., to talk about next steps.

Prosecutors have until July 7 to tell the court how they plan to proceed, according to the DOJ.