(CNN) — The US Justice Department on Tuesday notified Boeing that it breached terms of its 2021 agreement in which the company avoided criminal charges for two fatal 737 Max crashes.

After a series of safety missteps earlier this year, including a door plug that blew off an Alaska Airlines flight shortly after takeoff, the Department of Justice said Boeing is now subject to criminal prosecution.

“For failing to fulfill completely the terms of and obligations under the [deferred prosecution agreement], Boeing is subject to prosecution by the United States for any federal criminal violation of which the United States has knowledge,” the Justice Department said in a letter to US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, who oversaw the prior agreement.

The notification comes as the Justice Department conducts a new investigation into Boeing’s operations in the wake the door plug incident. The earlier deal had resolved a fraud investigation related to the company’s development of its 737 Max aircraft.

Under its deferred prosecution agreement from 2021, Boeing paid $2.5 billion in penalties and promised to improve its safety and compliance protocols. Families of victims of the October 2018 Lion Air 737 Max crash and the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash had long denounced the delayed prosecution agreement, arguing it denied them justice for the deaths of their loved ones.

Families of victims and lawyers representing them met with the Justice Department late last month to persuade the Biden administration to end the agreement in the light of multiple safety lapses at Boeing this year and in past years after the 2021 agreement was reached.

Following the April 2024 meeting, attorney Paul Cassell, who represents the victims’ families, said at a press conference that the deferred prosecution agreement was “rigged” and brokered without families’ say.

“It is clear that they are only interested in seeing through the rigged Deferred Prosecution Agreement they brokered with Boeing without the involvement of the very families whose lives were shattered due to the company’s fraud and misconduct,” Cassell said at the time. “We will pursue every avenue to continue our challenge of the DPA and ensure Boeing is truly held accountable.”

Cassell was not immediately available Tuesday for comment.

In Thursday’s letter to the federal judge overseeing the prior agreement, the Justice Department said it had notified the company that “the government has determined that Boeing breached its obligations” in multiple parts of the 2021 deal “by failing to design, implement, and enforce a compliance and ethics program to prevent and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations.”

The-CNN-Wire
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