Justice Department presents plea deal to Boeing over alleged violations of deferred prosecution agreement

The Justice Department has presented Boeing with a plea deal after it accused the airplane manufacturer of violating the terms of a 2021 deferred prosecution agreement that was put in place following two 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019.

The Justice Department told Boeing it could plead guilty or go to trial, people familiar with the talks confirmed to CBS News. The agreement, which was presented to Boeing on Sunday, would have the company plead guilty to the conspiracy charge it originally faced in 2021. In exchange, Boeing would pay a fine and enter a three-year probationary period, the people said.

The Justice Department outlined the deal in a presentation to family members of the 737 Max crash victims earlier Sunday before presenting it to Boeing.

If Boeing agrees, a judge will have to sign off on the deal.

News of the plea deal was first reported by Reuters.

Paul Cassell, an attorney who represents 15 of the victims’ families, told CBS News the proposal was “another sweetheart plea deal” and said the families will “strenuously object” to the deal.

“The deal will not acknowledge, in any way, that Boeing’s crime killed 346 people. It also appears to rest on the idea that Boeing did not harm any victim,” Cassell said, adding that “Judge O’Connor will have to decide whether this no-accountability-deal is in the public interest. … The memory of 346 innocents killed by Boeing demands more justice than this.”

Boeing and the Justice Department declined to comment on the plea deal.

Boeing entered into the deferred prosecution agreement, an arrangement that allows companies to avoid prosecution if they meet certain terms, in 2021 after it faced a criminal conspiracy charge over two deadly 737 Max crashes. The deal included a $2.5 billion payment and demanded the company implement specific compliance and ethics programs. If Boeing was found to have complied with the deal, the charge would be dropped after a period of three years, which would have expired in July of this year.

But federal prosecutors in May told a judge Boeing had violated the terms of the agreement, claiming the company failed to set up sufficient compliance measures.

Boeing responded in June, saying it disagreed with the prosecutors’ assessment and that it had not violated the agreement.

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