Four individuals have been charged for their respective roles in a conspiracy to sell phony Coast Guard merchant mariner credentials in Norfolk.
In 2019, Kavaja, a crew member who worked on board the shipping vessel MSC Gayane as the ship’s electrician, conspired with others to engage in bulk cocaine smuggling.
Vladimir Penda, 27, of the country of Montenegro, entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine on a vessel.
Bernhard, a vessel operating company, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of bilge waste from the tank vessel Topaz Express, a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
Nikolaos Vastardis, Evridiki Navigation Inc., and Liquimar Tankers Management Services Inc., were convicted by a federal jury in Wilmington, Delaware, of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, falsifying ship’s documents, obstructing a U.S. Coast Guard inspection, and making false statements to U.S. Coast Guard inspectors.
U.S. Attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands announced that IONIAN SHIPPING & TRADING CORP., LILY SHIPPING LTD., STAMATIOS ALEKIDIS, ATHANASIOS PITTAS, and REY ESPULGAR have been convicted and sentenced for various pollution, recordkeeping, and obstruction of justice crimes on M/T Ocean Princess in St. Croix, U.S.V.I.