Charges Dropped Against Deepwater Horizon Engineer

By The Maritime Executive 11-10-2015 04:01:59

The U.S. Department of Justice, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, has dropped all obstruction of justice charges against former BP engineer Kurt Mix related to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Mix pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of deleting a single text message conversation with a close personal friend who was also a co-worker. The texts were almost entirely personal in nature and did not include anything important about the oil spill.

Joan McPhee of Ropes & Gray LLP, attorney for Mix, stated, "The resolution of this case is a vindication of Kurt Mix and an acknowledgment by the Department of Justice that Kurt never acted to obstruct justice. It is an affirmation of Kurt's innocence of the charges that the Department of Justice has been pursuing for over four years. This is a case that never should have been brought, against a man whose tireless efforts in the Deepwater Horizon spill should have been acknowledged and appreciated, not prosecuted."

Mix stated, "I'm thankful that the Department of Justice has finally acknowledged that I did not engage in any act to obstruct justice. My family and I have paid an enormous price as a result of the Justice Department's misguided prosecution. This is not a fight I ever wanted, but I was never going to give in to the false accusation that I obstructed justice."

Today's announcement was the culmination of a lengthy investigation and prosecution initiated by the Justice Department in the summer of 2011. The Department of Justice mounted a four-year prosecution against Mix, costing millions of taxpayer dollars. A jury in December 2013 cleared Mix of one obstruction of justice charge, and the Department of Justice dropped the second charge last Friday. 

Mix had been tasked by BP to analyze the flow rate of oil gushing from its blown-out Macondo well. Prosecutors accused Mix of deleting hundreds of text and voice messages that may have proven BP lied about how much oil was leaking into the gulf in what became the worst offshore environmental disaster in U.S. history.

The Justice Department declined to comment, said spokesman Peter Carr. The sentence of six months of probation and 60 hours of community service was recommended by both the government and defense, he said.

The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and triggered an 87-day oil spill.