Ex-BP engineer found guilty in Gulf of Mexico spill case

Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:25pm EST
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - An engineer charged with obstructing justice in connection with the 2010 BP well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico was found guilty of one count by a federal jury on Wednesday, officials said.

Former BP Plc (BP.L: Quote) employee Kurt Mix, 52, had faced two counts of obstruction for deleting hundreds of messages he exchanged with his supervisor and a contractor in the weeks after the spill, but was convicted of only one.

Mix was part of a team that scrambled to plug the Macondo well and figure out how much oil was leaking in what became the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history.

During the two-week trial, government lawyers painted Mix as a loyal member of the drilling team who tried to shield BP from blame by deleting text and voice messages that may have proven BP lied about how much oil was escaping into the Gulf.

Defense attorneys, who do not deny Mix deleted messages, insisted he had no ill intent and that the deletions were largely accidental.

Mix, of Katy, Texas, did not take the stand in his own defense. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Prosecutor Leo Tsao told the jurors that Mix had been warned repeatedly not to delete any information from his company iPhone and had notified him that he might be subpoenaed before a grand jury investigating BP's response to the spill.

By ignoring those warnings Mix displayed "corrupt intent" Tsao said.   Continued...

Former BP Plc engineer Kurt Mix leaves the Federal courthouse in Houston April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Richard Carson