Ever since its deep-sea well in the Gulf of Mexico blew up in April 2010, killing 11 rig workers and sullying the region’s coastline, BP has said it would pay billions to clean up the mess and make victims whole. So far, those payouts total more than $25 billion, with much more to come. Even with all that money floating around, though, some Gulf Coast residents have viewed the calamity and the company’s response as a chance to grab more than their share of BP spill bucks—including a new case involving relatives of a top Alabama law enforcement official.
Federal officials in Mobile made public an indictment last week of seven people accused of receiving thousands of dollars in fraudulent claims from BP, according to the Associated Press. Four of the defendants are relatives of Alabama’s secretary of Law Enforcement and Homeland Security, Spencer Collier. The state official wasn’t implicated in the alleged rip-off, according to Dennis Knizley, a lawyer for Harvey Collier, Spencer Collier’s brother. “I just think these people were simply involved in the seafood industry or the water-related industry in that area and happened to be who was arrested in this case,” he added. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who appointed Collier, backed his aide in a written statement, vowing to “continue to support Spencer Collier at this difficult time.”