A former BP drilling engineer, Kurt Mix, was convicted on December 18 of one charge that he deleted text messages from his cell phone to obstruct a federal investigation of the company’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Mix was acquitted by the federal jury of a second charge. The count of obstruction of justice carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mix made bond and was released. His sentencing is scheduled for March 26.
Prosecutors argued that Mix, a Texas resident, was trying to destroy evidence when he deleted hundreds of text messages to and from a supervisor and a BP contractor. Mix was accused of deleting two voicemails from the same two people. Mix, who didn’t testify at his two-week trial, was one of four current or former BP employees charged with crimes related to the spill. His case was the first to be tried. Mix was on a team of experts who worked on BP’s unsuccessful attempt to stop the gusher using a technique called “top kill.” He had access to internal data about how much oil was flowing from the blown-out well.
On May 26, 2010, the day that top kill began, Mix estimated in a text to a supervisor that more than 630,000 gallons of oil per day were spilling – three times BP’s public estimate of 210,000 gallons daily – and a rate far greater than what top kill could handle. That text was in a string of messages that Mix exchanged with his supervisor, Jonathan Sprague, before deleting it in October 2010. Investigators couldn’t recover 17 of the messages in the string. In August 2011, Mix also deleted a string of text messages that he exchanged with BP contractor Wilson Arabie. Several weeks earlier, federal authorities issued a subpoena to BP for copies of Mix’s correspondence. The same count that charges Mix with intentionally deleting those messages also says Mix deleted a voicemail from Arabie and a voicemail from Sprague.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.