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Cosco Busan Pilot Pleads Guilty

John Cota, the pilot aboard the 901-ft Cosco Busan when it hit the Bay Bridge on November 7, 2007, pleaded guilty last week to negligently causing the discharge of 53,000 gallons of oil into the Bay and to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by causing the deaths of thousands of birds. In the plea deal with federal prosecutors, Cota will serve two to 10 months in prison and be fined $3,000 to $30,000 for his role in the environmental disaster that wreaked $60 million worth of damages. He will be sentenced in June, and will not be able to reapply for a pilot’s license until 2010.

The owner of the ship, Fleet Management Ltd, has been indicted on six felony charges — that trial has been postponed until September — and both Cota and Fleet Management are defendants in civil lawsuits stemming from the accident.

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