In my previous post I illustrated the gross negligence and indifference of the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry as it pertained to the illegal and dangerous conduct of Noble Drilling which I reported to them.
The epitome of this knowing and willful cover-up was when I notified the U.S. Department of Justice. Specifically, I notified the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska. This was the U.S. Attorney’s Office that had prosecuted Noble Drilling as it pertained to their eight felony convictions that took place on the vessel “Noble Discoverer” from 2010 to 2012. During this timeframe of illegal activity, the shore-based manager of the “Noble Discoverer” was Drilling Superintendent John Hawkins. The case # was 3:2014-cr-00114-RRB, the United States of America vs. Noble Drilling. This is also where Noble Drillings probation officer was located. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska is Mr. Bryan Schroder. He is a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and served as an Officer for twenty-four years before retiring as a Captain from the U.S. Coast Guard.
On May 1, 2017, I emailed the U.S. Attorney for the District of Alaska, Bryan Schroder, as well as a number of other individuals who had been involved in the initial prosecution of Noble Drilling. I notified them that Noble Drilling had violated the terms and conditions of their probation and plea agreement. Approximately two weeks after sending the email I received a phone call from a Special Agent with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS). The CGIS requested I send the evidence I had. I sent the CGIS the same identical evidence I had given to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry. This evidence included emails, internal documents, work permits, job safety analysis documents and full deposition transcripts from my “Seaman’s Protection Act” litigation against Noble Drilling.
I never spoke with or met with any of the previously mentioned U.S. Attorney’s from the District if Alaska. On October 27, 2017 I met with DOJ Attorneys Ken Nelson and John Cashman. They were both involved in the initial prosecution and plea agreement against Noble Drilling. We met in Providence, RI.
Several months passed since that October meeting and in early March 2018 when I followed up with the CGIS agent I had been communicating with he informed me Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation. I was stunned. Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation as of March 1, 2018. In my subsequent contact with the previously mentioned Ken Nelson and John Cashman, (which was in early March 2018 and after Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation), they told me they found me very credible and truthful. How could a convicted felon who was reoffending within two months of commencing probation with the same shore-based manager, and committing nearly identical illegal and felonious offenses get away with such behavior and be granted early termination of probation?
I read several of the Court documents that contained Noble’s petitions to the Court for early termination of probation. These included sworn affidavits signed by the Court Appointed “3rd Party Auditor” and “Independent Auditor.” I will elaborate on the auditors further on in this paragraph. Another sworn affidavit was signed by Noble Drilling’s employee services directory, Priscilla Heistad. At the time of my termination she was Noble Drillings Human Resources Manager and she was involved in my litigation against Noble Drilling. Priscilla Heistad knowingly, willingly lied in her sworn affidavit. For the record, Priscilla Heistad is a licensed attorney in the State of Texas. Noble Drilling and their attorneys (James Sanislow, John Cox and Herbert Ray) also knowingly, willingly and maliciously lied to the Court on multiple occasions in their Court filings and petitions. In particular, they lied about the events leading up to and surrounding my termination. Upon learning of Noble being granted early termination of probation I immediately tried contacting U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office as I thought it was important that they be aware that Noble Drilling lied in Court. They never returned any of my phone calls. I sent several emails with additional documentation and evidence. I offered to travel to Alaska so as to meet with with Mr. Schroder and his prosecutors but that request was denied. I even sent a letter and a large 3-ring binder with evidence and documentation directly to the Judge who presided over the case, Judge Ralph R. Beistline. I never received a response from the Judge. In April 2018 I received an email/letter from U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder and Asst. U.S. Attorney Andrea “Aunnie” Steward. In this email/letter they offered to “seal” the documents in the Noble case. I declined this offer as all that would do was conceal Noble Drillings illegal and unethical conduct as it pertained to their false Court filings. I had done nothing wrong and I had told the truth. Why would I need or want the documents “sealed.” I requested that they file perjury charges against Noble Drilling. That never happened. In their letter, they also stated that the Judge based his decisions on the affidavits of Noble Drillings “court appointed auditor” and “independent auditor.” As a condition of their plea agreement, these two “auditors” were tasked with monitoring Noble Drillings progress while on probation. The Court Appointed Independent Auditor was Kim Estes and the Court Appointed 3rd Party Auditor was Jay Webster of Sabine Surveyors. To the best of my knowledge Kim Estes does not have an active USCG License and has not been to sea in many, many years. It appears for quite some time he has been pursing an acting career. I find it very odd that of all of the highly skilled, highly qualified maritime consultants available that Noble Drilling and their legal counsel would select Kim Estes. Kim Estes had a clear conflict of interest in this case as he had provided “consulting” services in the form of “coaching and ethical behavior” to the law firm of Keesal, Young and Logan. (This is directly from Mr. Estes website, www.estesgroupllc.com). Not coincidentally, that is the same law firm that Attorneys John Cox and Herbert Ray were employed by when they first began representing Noble Drilling. In fact, their signatures are on the December 8, 2014 plea agreement as attorney’s for Keesal, Young and Logan representing the defendant, Noble Drilling. The Court had to approve of these auditors. One would think that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. District Court in Alaska would recognize this very clear conflict of interest between Kim Estes and the defense counsel. However, that would not be the case. At the time of Noble’s granting of early termination of probation, John Cox and Herbert Ray were no longer with the law firm of Keesal, Young and Logan. James Sanislow, the other attorney, is a Noble Drilling employee. He is their VP/Chief Compliance Officer.
After reading the sworn affidavits of Kim Estes and Jay Webster I tried emailing them and calling them on several occasions. In the email to them I provided all the evidence to prove that Noble Drilling was lying. I never received any response via email or phone from Kim Estes or Jay Webster. I have come to learn that that is the consistent behavior of those confronted with their dishonest and unethical behavior. It also became very clear to me that Kim Estes and Jay Webster were not interested in the truth and that they were bought and paid for by Noble Drilling. Personally, for alleged former mariners such as Kim Estes and Jay Webster to “sell out” the way they did is beyond disgraceful. As for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it was very clear that the evidence I provided was suppressed, withheld and ignored. In my opinion, there was blatant collusion between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska and Noble Drilling. This collusion was all in an effort to aid and abet Noble Drilling to be granted early termination. The evidence I provided was an inconvenient truth to whatever back room deal that U.S. Attorney Schroder and his Office made with Noble Drilling which is why, in my opinion, it was withheld and ignored.
One would think that a U.S. Attorney’s Office led by a former Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard and a Federal Judge would be livid that an eight-time convicted felon who just entered into a plea agreement was violating their probation within sixty days……and with the same shore-based manager, John Hawkins, leading the way. The fact that the events surrounding my termination is indicative of a dysfunctional and dangerous corporate culture that does not value safety is deeply troubling. One would also think that the events surrounding my termination and the cover up of illegal activity involved Noble Drillings own James Sanislow would be very troubling to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Court, in tandem with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry, gave Noble Drilling a free pass. I believe the fact that Noble Drilling was granted early termination of probation validates this.
I was always under the impression that when one is on criminal probation they are so supposed to be following the law and staying out of trouble. Evidently, the rules of law don’t apply to Noble Drilling. Perhaps, they knew all along that the Department of Justice, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Liberian Registry would just look the other way and do nothing and would not hold them accountable or responsible for their behavior. How else can one explain their blatant hubris and arrogance? In Court documents, the pinnacle of the collusion between Noble Drilling and the U.S. Attorney’s Office was when Noble Drilling stated that the U.S. Attorney’s Office now agreed with them that I was not a whistleblower!
The end result of the impotence and inaction by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard is to the detriment of the safety of the mariner. These entities are supposed to be looking out for the safety of the mariner because, quite frankly, management cultures such as Noble Drilling have demonstrated that they are irresponsible, unethical and operate illegally on a consistent basis. Again, this is to the detriment of the safety of the mariner. When Captain’s or any other crew member are fired within days of reporting safety violations or hazards and law enforcement and regulatory agencies do nothing but protect and enable this type of management who is looking out for the mariner?
My next post will illustrate the end result of what happens when law enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the Department of Justice and U.S. Coast Guard negligently and irresponsibly look the other way and enable such dysfunctional corporate management cultures such as Noble Drilling.
As always, if any of you have any questions or comments regarding the content of this post please feel free to call me or email me. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Captain Jeffrey B. Hagopian