Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Ex-BP Worker Pleads Not Guilty to Destroying Spill Evidence

May 3 (Bloomberg) -- A former BP Plc engineer pleaded not guilty to charges he intentionally destroyed evidence requested by the U.S. about the size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The U.S. said Kurt Mix, who worked on internal BP efforts to estimate the amount of oil leaking from the well, deleted text messages between him and a supervisor. Mix was charged with two counts of obstruction of justice, in the first criminal case arising from the incident.

“I plead not guilty,” Mix said at his arraignment today in federal court in New Orleans.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel Knowles accepted the plea. He restricted Mix’s travel to Texas, Louisiana, Massachusetts and New York after lawyers for the U.S. said the defendant may flee if released.

The Justice Department, which began investigating the incident in June 2010, said last week it was continuing the probe. The charges against Mix are likely to be followed by others, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday in a press conference.

‘Time Frame’

“We expect there will be others,” Holder told reporters in Washington. “I wouldn’t want to put a time frame on when charges will be brought.”

A federal grand jury had been investigating the spill estimates, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Barbara O’Donnell said in a sworn statement filed in the Mix case last week.

“Mix deleted numerous electronic records relating to the Deepwater Horizon disaster response, including records concerning the amount of oil potentially flowing from the well, after being repeatedly informed of his obligation to maintain such records,” O’Donnell said in a sworn statement that was filed April 23.

Mix deleted the e-mails in October 2010 despite receiving multiple notices from London-based BP in the weeks after the spill, “which stated on the cover, in bold and underlined type, that instant messages and text messages needed to be preserved,” the U.S. said in its indictment of Mix issued yesterday.

‘Hundreds’ of Messages

The text streams involved “hundreds” of messages, Derek Cohen, a Justice Department attorney, told Knowles at the arraignment. “Obviously, it’s in dispute over his intent.”

Mix brought the deletions to the attention of the government, Joan McPhee, his attorney, told the judge.

“Mr. Mix saved thousands of e-mails and hundreds of text messages,” McPhee said. The information saved includes flow rate data, work on the efforts to contain the spill, and his personal log notes, she said.

The case is U.S. v. Mix, 12-cr-0017, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

To contact the reporters on this story: Margaret Cronin Fisk in Detroit at mcfisk@bloomberg.net; Allen Johnson Jr. in federal court in New Orleans.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.