Boeing Victims Disappointed After Contentious Six Hour Meeting with Federal Prosecutors

More than 100 Boeing victims’ family members met with the Justice Department for over six hours today and came out of the meeting disappointed with the result.

Glenn Leon
Chief Fraud Section
Criminal Division
Department of Justice

The Justice Department set up the meeting after a federal judge in Texas last month ruled that the Department had violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act (CVRA) by not conferring with the victims while negotiating a secret deferred prosecution agreement to settle its criminal investigation with Boeing. 

Fraud Section chief Glenn Leon, a former deputy general counsel at Hewlett-Packard, led a team of eight prosecutors in the meeting. 

Leon claimed that the purpose of the gathering was to “meet and confer” with the victims, as required under the CVRA.

The victims disagreed, asking – since the Department didn’t even notify all victims of the meeting – how could it be a meet and confer?

Naoise Connolly Ryan, whose husband Mick died in the Ethiopian Boeing crash, called the meeting “a complete disappointment.”

“The government stood by Boeing and their secretly-crafted deal against our families,” Ryan said. “It is horrific that the government continues to give preferential treatment to Boeing – supporting a secret, sweetheart agreement that provided immunity to the company responsible for our loved ones’ deaths.” 

“While the Justice Department is gaslighting our families and inflicting new wounds, we remain undeterred in our fight for justice and look forward to pursuing our rights in court,” Ryan said.

Nadia Milleron, mother of Boeing victim 24 year old Samya Rose Stumo, said it was clear to her after the meeting that “the Department of Justice is supporting a deal with Boeing that was made secretly and illegally, omits input from victims, and lets Boeing off the hook for killing 346 people with their defective plane.”

“We watched the Department of Justice attorneys in the courtroom in Fort Worth Texas confer in a friendly manner with Boeing attorneys,” Milleron said. “Then we read the almost identical briefs from the Department of Justice and Boeing submitted on Friday, November 11, again without conferring with victims, saying the victims have no remedies.” 

“The Department is clearly in bed with Boeing,” she said. “In his ruling last month, Judge Reed O’Connor found – ‘but for Boeing’s criminal conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration, 346 people would not have lost their lives in the crashes.’” 

“Had an average citizen committed a crime that resulted in the death of 346 people, would that person be walking the streets free of criminal prosecution?” she asked.

Milleron asked federal prosecutors – “Will you criminally prosecute Boeing, and their executives Calhoun and Muilenberg in open court before a jury until verdict?” 

“They could not answer me,” she said.

Prosecutors told the families that they would accept any evidence they might have of criminal wrongdoing. 

But the families and their lawyers responded that in fact prosecutors have not accepted evidence offered in the past. The families pressed prosecutors to seek crucial evidence currently under seal in the civil cases. Leon was non committal on that.

A crucial moment in the hearing came when family members called out two federal prosecutors in the room, two who were seen palling around with Boeing attorneys during the court hearings in Ft. Worth, Texas, passing notes back and forth, walking together to and from the courthouse.

Family members asked that those two prosecutors get up and leave the room. The two prosecutors refused.

Prosecutors did agree with at least one of the family members’ demands – a full arraignment of Boeing in court.

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