Policy News

Update on Federal Indictments in BP Oil Spill Damages Fraud

According an article appearing in the Sun Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), one man accused of fraud in claiming BP funds after the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill wants a speedier trial, while two others have asked for a delay.

 

The article states that “The seven defendants are scheduled to be tried together in December in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on 95 charges each of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, identify theft and aggravated identity theft.”

Federal investigators say the seven filed thousands of false claims, including the filing of claims using the names and identities of individuals without their knowledge. San Antonio attorney Mike Watts, whose law firm of Watts, Guerra and Craft is accused of at least 41 such false claims filed a motion asking for the trial to go ahead in December in order to clear his name.

"The spectre of this investigation has been hanging over Mr. Watts since it was publicly revealed nearly three years ago," says the motion filed by his attorney, Robert McDuff of Jackson. "He wishes to go to trial very soon so that he can present his defense and refute these allegations."

Other defendants have asked for a delay until February 2016 in order to prepare a defense. Because all seven will be tried together, any delays would impact all of the defendants.

Meanwhile, a new report from WDSU television in New Orleans claims that some BP funds for restoration are being used in areas not directly impacted by the spill.

For more information, click here.

WDSU’s report can be viewed here.

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