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August 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Feds Seize Jean-Michel Cousteauís Boat

but why was someone else given the criminal charges?

from the August, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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On June 14, Federal agents seized the Manfish, a $30,000 boat moored in Santa Barbara that is owned by Jean-Michel Cousteau. It was part of a Department of Justice action for transgressions during his team's filming of orca attacks on Monterey Bay in April 2004. Among the violations alleged against the 25-foot Manfish, Cousteau's crew interrupted a feeding frenzy by driving too close to a gray whale carcass, even inadvertently backing over the dead calf while the killer whales were actively feeding.

Around the time its agents seized the Manfish, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed a civil complaint for forfeiture, which allows the government to gain possession of a person's property without any determination of guilt. It's a lawsuit against property, not the person, so legal action has less to do with a person's guilt and more to do with the property's use in association with criminal acts.

No one in Cousteau's crew was charged, and the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment on its decision why. Yet Nancy Black, a marine biologist who helped Cousteau's team during its Monterey Bay filming, was charged with a misdemeanor for her role, along with felony charges for a separate whale-watching trip. They're all rolled into one lawsuit that carries maximum prison sentences of 20 years and fines of at least $100,000. Why the heat on Black, who was just another person helping on the trip, and none on Cousteau, who led the expedition?...

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