Cosco Busan pilot faces new felony charges

April 22, 2008 6:46:07 PM PDT
Felony charges were filed today against the man piloting the ship that spilled 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay.

Captain John Cota was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of lying to Coast Guard officials about his prescription drug use. He was previously charged with two misdemeanor crimes.

The felony charges accuse of Cota of lying on U.S. Coast Guard medical reports. The indictment alleges that Cota "knew that the information he provided was neither complete nor true, including the information ... regarding current medications, the dosage, possible side effects and medical conditions for which the medications were taken."

The National Transportation Safety Board was also told last week that Cota had a drunk driving conviction and a history of alcohol abuse.

The Cosco Busan accident occurred when the ship struck a portion of the Bay Bridge and spilled over 50,000 gallons of heavy bunker oil, soiling beaches and killing more than 2,000 birds in November of 2007.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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