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DOJ to meet with families of Boeing victims as decision closes on if company violated prosecution deal

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sent a letter to the families of victims of two fatal Boeing 737 Max crashes, looking to meet with them as it decides if the company violated a deal that allowed it to get out of criminal prosecution over the crashes.

The letter, obtained and reported by ABC News, was sent by the DOJ’s fraud section, and asked families of the victims to attend a May 31 meeting where they will be informed of the department’s decision.

Boeing has experienced increased scrutiny after a series of safety mishaps this year, which halted progress it was making recovering after the two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019. The incidents have put a spotlight on the company culture, safety and manufacturing.

In April, about a dozen relatives of passengers who died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in 2019, met with officials in Washington, where they asked them to revive a criminal fraud charge against Boeing to determine the company violated the terms of a 2021 settlement.

The agreement meant Boeing would continue cooperation with the government, disclose any allegations of fraud and avoid committing any felony offenses. If the DOJ believes the company has violated the agreement, it would make way for a historic criminal prosecution that would likely have industry-wide impacts.

“The DOJ has been very nontransparent in disclosing to the families how they are going about making the determination of compliance or breach,” Robert Clifford, a lawyer representing families, according to ABC. “This has been a very disappointing feature of the department’s contact and communication with the families. But, in fairness to the department, prosecutors seldom discuss the details of their investigations, so this is not out of the ordinary.”

The DOJ has invited the families of victims to meet with attorneys from the fraud section for seven hours at the end of the month and will be told the department’s decision and “potential next steps.” Their input and views will be heard as well, ABC reported.

The Hill has reached out the DOJ for comment. Boeing did not comment.

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