WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Boeing violated a settlement that allowed the company to avoid criminal prosecution after two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft more than five years ago, the Justice Department told a federal judge on Tuesday.

It is now up to the Justice Department to decide whether to file charges against Boeing.

Prosecutors will tell the court no later than July 7 how they plan to proceed, department said.

New 737 Max jets crashed in 2018 in Indonesia and 2019 in Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Boeing reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department in January 2021 to avoid prosecution on a single charge of fraud — misleading federal regulators who approved the plane.

Boeing blamed the deception on two relatively low-level employees.

In a letter filed Tuesday in federal court in Texas, the head of the Justice Department criminal division’s fraud section said Boeing violated terms of the settlement by failing to make promised changes to detect and prevent violations of federal anti-fraud laws.

The determination means that Boeing could be prosecuted “for any federal criminal violation of which the United States has knowledge,” including the charge of fraud that the company hoped to avoid with the settlement, the Justice Department said.

However, it is not clear whether the government will prosecute Boeing.

Boeing Co., which is based in Arlington, Virginia, disputed the Justice Department’s finding.

Boeing has come under renewed scrutiny since that Alaska Airlines flight in January, when a door plug blew out of a 737 Max, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the jetliner.

The company is under multiple investigations into the blowout and its manufacturing quality.

The FBI has told passengers from the flight that they might be victims of a crime.

Follow NEWSnet on Facebook and X platform to get our headlines in your social feeds.

Copyright 2024 NEWSnet and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.