Final Chapter In PAPPADAKIS Saga In Norfolk: Leniency For Ship’s Engineer Who Used A “Magic Pipe” To Dump Oily Water At Sea
Norfolk federal Judge Mark S. Davis could have given the prosecution what they wanted—5 to 6 years of incarceration for the chief engineer on the PAPPADAKIS who was found guilty of violating numerous federal pollution-related laws. Weighing heavily against 59 year-old Greek mariner Lambros Katsipis was the fact that he had lied under oath at trial. Instead, last week Judge Davis sentenced Katsipis to just a year of probation, including four months at a halfway house.
Federal judges are not known for being merciful at sentencing time. The federal sentencing guidelines themselves, which take some expertise and experience to truly understand and apply, tend to “guide” prosecutors and judges to high sentences. Indeed, Katsipis’ sentencing brief referred to the sentencing guidelines range as “shockingly disproportionate” and the guidelines themselves as “arbitrary.” United States v. Katsipis, No. 2:13-cr-70 (E.D. Va. 2013), Document 115. The guidelines were mandatory until the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in United States v. Booker invalidated the mandatory aspect of the guidelines to comport with the Sixth Amendment’s right to trial by jury. Since 2005, federal judges have more authority to impose a “reasonable” sentence even if it is at odds with the sentencing guidelines.
In Katsipis’ case, the determining factor for leniency was that Katsipis’ wife had been terminally ill while Katsipis was using his “magic pipe” to dump oily bilge water at sea. She died in Greece in May this year, while Katsipis was being held in the U.S. while the investigation into his activities was concluded. Moreover, since May, Katsipis has lived alone, confined to a hotel room awaiting trial and then sentencing, unable to return home to bury his wife and mourn with his family. In light of this personal tragedy, Judge Davis chose not to incarcerate Katsipis. However, as noted in our previous blog, sentences for chief engineers guilty of similar charges have tended to be probation to just six months of incarceration.
Local news coverage