In U.S. v. Stickle, No. 05-12077 (July 6, 2006), the Court rejected the arguments of the owner of a transportation company who was convicted of polluting international waters, after it dumped wheat contamined from oil into the Indian Ocean.
The defendant claimed that he was improperly charged with violating 33 C.F.R. § 151.10(a), which criminalizes dumping by a "ship other than an oil tanker." The ship in question was originally an oil tanker, but was later certified, inspected and approved for use as a freight vessel. The Court concluded that the indictment was therefore proper, noting that the approval forms the ship obtained clearly referred to use as a freight vessel, not an oil tanker.
The Court also rejected the argument that venue should have proved beyond a reasonable doubt, adhering to its caselaw which provides that matters that are not elements of the crime should be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Court rejected the argument that venue did not exist in the Southern District of Florida for the conspiracy count, when the locus delicit was the Indian Ocean, and the only act committed in Florida was a co-conspirator’s lie in response to a question from a law enforcement agent investigating the offense. The Court held that "the jury reasonably concluded that the false statement impeded the inviestigation." [Query: What about the caselaw which holds that there is a distinction between a conspiracy and subsequent acts of concealment, e.g. Grunewald v. U.S., 353 U.S. 391 (1959)?].
The Court also rejected the argument that there was no venue in the Southern District of Florida for the substantive illegal discharge offense. The Court noted that because the offense occurred on the high seas, the last known residence of one of the offenders governed venue, and here one offender lived in the Southern District of Florida.