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Boeing crash victims families urge DOJ to criminally prosecute company


(WASHINGTON) — The families of victims who died in one of two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes met with Department of Justice officials Wednesday regarding the looming decision to prosecute or dismiss charges against the company.

The fatal Boeing crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 killed 346 people. Family members of victims of the 2019 crash in Ethiopia met with prosecutors in Washington D.C. Wednesday.

The first crash on Oct. 29, 2018, in Jakarta, Indonesia, killed all 189 passengers and crew.

The second crash, on March 10, 2019, happened in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when a Boeing aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff and killed 157 people onboard.

Both crashes preceded the Alaska Airlines incident earlier this year, when a door plug fell out of the fuselage of a Boeing 737 Max 9, a newer model, after departure.

After a five-hour meeting on Wednesday, lawyers for the families of some of the victims said that they received no additional information about whether the Justice Department will be moving to dismiss charges against Boeing after the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) it reached with the company.

Lawyers for the families also said they were not given specific information about how prosecutors are investigating the Alaska Airlines blowout.

In 2021, the DOJ charged Boeing with “conspiracy to defraud the United States,” after a lengthy investigation that the company knowingly misled regulators while seeking approval for its 737 MAX aircraft.

Boeing entered into the deferred prosecution agreement worth $2.5 billion consisting of a $243 million criminal penalty, $500 million to relatives who lost loved ones and $1.77 billion to global airlines affected by the MAX groundings.

The government has until July 7 to decide whether to move to dismiss the criminal case, to extend the agreement or to proceed with a prosecution.

Attorney Paul G. Cassell told reporters Wednesday, “The meetings with the Department of Justice were what we feared — all for show and without substance.”

“It is clear that they are only interested in seeing through the rigged Deferred Prosecution Agreement they brokered with Boeing without the involvement of the very families whose lives were shattered due to the company’s fraud and misconduct,” Cassell claimed.

“We will pursue every avenue to continue our challenge of the DPA and ensure Boeing is truly held accountable,” he said.

Cassell told ABC News if the DOJ does drop the charges against Boeing, they will “aggressively fight Boeing in the Northern District of Texas and any other court if needed.”

“Remember, Boeing has already admitted and committed a crime, their charges have been filed in Texas,” Cassell said. “We simply want that case to move forward and let the jury decide whether Boeing is a criminal or not.”

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Boeing declined ABC News’ request for comment.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, who announced he would step down at the end of the year, said after the January incident, “Whatever final conclusions are reached, Boeing is accountable for what happened. An event like this must not happen on an airplane that leaves our factory.”

The meeting on Wednesday comes on the same day Boeing announced it lost $355 million on falling revenue in the first quarter, signaling further strains on the aerospace company.

ABC News’ James Hill contributed to this report.

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