Families of those killed in Boeing crashes urge Justice Department to prosecute company

WASHINGTON — Relatives of passengers killed in two plane crashes pushed federal officials Friday to prosecute Boeing on criminal charges related to the accidents by this fall, but said they received no commitment from the Justice Department.

The Justice Department determined two weeks ago that Boeing violated the terms of a settlement allowing the company to avoid prosecution for misleading regulators who approved the Boeing 737 Max. Prosecutors have said they will announce by July 7 whether the company will face sanctions.

Boeing agreed in 2021 to pay $2.5 billion — mainly compensation to airlines — to avoid prosecution for fraud. Relatives of some of the 346 people killed in the 2018 and 2019 crashes have since tried to destroy the settlement.

It seemed that the fraud case would be definitively dismissed. But in January, a Max door plug blew during an Alaska Airlines flight, sparking new investigations into Boeing.

“They claimed the Max is completely safe, it's the most scrutinized plane ever, even as the doors of the Alaska Air (Max) blow open, and they can't blame the pilots anymore,” said Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya , died in the second crash.

The Justice Department declined to comment Friday but has said Boeing violated the terms of the 2021 settlement by failing to implement promised changes to detect and prevent violations of federal anti-fraud laws.

Prosecutors have not publicly disclosed any cases of possible fraud. In early May, Boeing announced that employees at a South Carolina factory had falsified inspection reports on approximately 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

“We believe we have complied with the terms of the agreement and look forward to the opportunity to respond to this matter with the Department of Justice,” a Boeing spokesperson said. They added that the company is acting “with the utmost transparency” to answer the department's questions, including those surrounding the Alaska Airlines incident.

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