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Boeing Plea Deal Involving 737 Max: What to Know and What Comes Next

Boeing Plea Deal Involving 737 Max: What to Know and What Comes Next

Boeing’s announcement on Sunday that it had agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge as part of a deal with the Justice Department was the culmination of a yearslong crisis involving the company’s 737 Max plane.

The agreement may help Boeing put to rest a federal case stemming from two fatal crashes of the 737 Max in 2018 and 2019. But the deal is not the final word on that saga and may have little impact on other problems, including questions about the company’s production quality that were brought to light when a panel blew out of a Max jet during a January flight.

Here’s what else to know about Boeing’s deal with federal prosecutors and other challenges the company is dealing with.

Boeing and the Justice Department first reached an agreement in 2021 about the two crashes that allowed the company to avoid criminal charges. But federal prosecutors this year said that the company had violated the terms of that agreement and came up with a new one, which was agreed to in principle on Sunday.

Under the latest agreement, Boeing would plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the federal government. The company would also agree to an independent monitor, three years of probation and additional financial penalties. That includes a $487.2 million fine, half of which could be forgiven because of Boeing’s earlier fine payments.

But the arrangement is not yet official.

“Sometimes people hear that there’s been a plea agreement and think that things are finalized, but that’s not necessarily true,” said Kya M. Henley, a co-founder of Saint Park, a law firm specializing in white collar crime and former public defender.

A formal agreement is expected to be filed in a federal court in the coming days and the judge overseeing the case will then review the deal, which many of the families of the people who died on the two crashes strongly oppose.

If the judge sides with the families, Boeing and the Justice Department will have to come up with a new deal.

Otherwise, a monitor will be chosen by an independent committee, with the final decision made by the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco. The Justice Department has said it would solicit the names of candidates for the job from the public and consider feedback from Boeing.

The families have said they remain deeply disappointed with the way the Justice Department handled the case against Boeing. Despite getting the…

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