Boeing to Plead Guilty to Criminal Fraud Conspiracy

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to criminal fraud conspiracy charges pertaining to the 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.

The crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed 346 people, exposed flaws in the aircraft’s system in violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

In 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Boeing with defrauding the U.S. government, but gave the company three years to comply with safety standards.

The company will also pay a $243.6 million fine, the same penalty it paid in 2021 as part of the original three-year agreement.

“The United States of America (the ‘Government’) respectfully submits this status report to inform the Court that the Government and The Boeing Company (‘Boeing’) have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a proposed plea agreement,” the filing reads.

Paul Cassell, a lawyer for some of the crash victims’ families, said, “This sweetheart deal fails to recognize that because of Boeing’s conspiracy, 346 people died. Through crafty lawyering between Boeing and DOJ, the deadly consequences of Boeing’s crime are being hidden.”

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, has called Boeing’s actions “egregious criminal conduct.” The judge could affect the plea deal that prosecutors offered or he could reject the agreement.

If the agreement is rejected, new negotiations between Boeing and the DOJ would be required.