Ex-BP employees face new indictments over spill
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Justice Department prosecutors secured new indictments Wednesday against a former BP engineer and a former BP executive charged separately with obstructing probes of the company’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The new indictment of former BP executive David Rainey adds language alleging that he knew of the pending congressional investigation he is charged with obstructing. A federal judge had dismissed the obstruction of Congress charge from Rainey’s original indictment, in part because it didn’t contain that allegation.
U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled last month that the obstruction count must be dismissed because it wasn’t clear that it applied to subcommittee investigations like the one at the center of Rainey’s case. The new indictment specifically accuses Rainey of trying to obstruct an investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
A grand jury in New Orleans also issued a new indictment Wednesday against former BP engineer Kurt Mix, who is charged with deleting text messages about the company’s spill response efforts to stymie a grand jury probe.
Mix’s new indictment doesn’t add any counts and makes few substantive changes. However, it contains a new allegation that he admitted to BP attorneys that he had deleted some texts and voicemails from his iPhone, including texts related to the company’s blown-out Macondo well.
Mix’s previous indictment claimed he received roughly 350 voicemails, including about 40 from a supervisor and approximately 15 from a contractor, and deleted all of them. The new indictment merely accuses him of deleting one voicemail from the supervisor, one voicemail from the contractor and one from a call that went through BP’s general switchboard.
Mix, a resident of Katy, Texas, pleaded not guilty last year to two counts of obstruction of justice. His trial is scheduled to start Dec. 2.
Mix and Rainey are both scheduled to be arraigned on June 25 on the charges in their new indictments.