Boeing ordered to be arraigned on charge in Max crashes

DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge has ordered Boeing Co. to be arraigned on a felony charge stemming from crashes of two 737 Max jets, a ruling that threatens to unravel an agreement Boeing negotiated to avoid prosecution.

The ruling by a judge in Texas came after relatives of some of the victims said the government violated their rights by reaching a settlement with Boeing without first notifying the families.

U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ordered Boeing to send a representative to his courtroom in Fort Worth Jan. 26 for arraignment.

O’Connor ruled last year that relatives of those killed in the crashes are crime victims under federal law and should have been consulted before the Justice Department agreed to a deal under which Boeing paid $2.5 billion to avoid prosecution on a criminal count of defrauding federal regulators who approved the 737 Max.

Most of the money from the settlement went to airlines that couldn't use their Max jets for nearly two years after the planes were grounded worldwide. Boeing agreed to pay a $243.6 million fine and create a $500 million fund to compensate victims' families.

David Koenig, The Associated Press