A former BP senior engineer was found guilty of destroying
evidence sought by the US in a probe of the 2010 Gulf of
Mexico well explosion and oil spill.
The US accused the engineer, Kurt Mix, of deleting from his
mobile phone text messages and voice mails related to
BPs effort to estimate the size of the spill. A
federal jury in New Orleans today found him guilty of one
of two counts of obstruction of justice.
Mix, who was involved in leading efforts to cap the Macondo
well as oil gushed into the gulf, denied intentionally
destroying evidence. Joan McPhee, one of his lawyers, today
asked US District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. to throw out the
guilty verdict. Duval deferred ruling on that motion. He
released Mix on bond and set sentencing for March 26.
The blowout of BPs Macondo well in deep water off the
coast of Louisiana in April 2010 killed 11 people and set
off the largest offshore oil spill in US history. BP agreed
last year to pay $4 billion to resolve the federal criminal
probe of its role in the spill.
The London-based company pleaded guilty to 14 criminal
counts including 11 for felony manslaughter, one
misdemeanor under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor
under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and one felony count of
obstruction of Congress for misrepresenting the size of the
Mix, the first defendant in a criminal case over the spill
to face a jury, was accused of deleting multiple messages,
including one in which he said the spill was bigger than BP
said it was. He went on trial in federal court on Dec. 2.
Jury deliberations began Dec. 16.
He was found guilty of deleting messages in October 2010
involving communications with his supervisor, Jonathan
Sprague. He was found not guilty of deleting communications
in August 2011 involving exchanges with Sprague and a
Mixs lawyers contended there was no evidence that
their client acted with corrupt intent in destroying
messages on either occasion.
The case is US v. Mix, 12-cr-00171, US District Court,
Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).