Closing arguments set in ex-BP executive Rainey’s trial

Author: Associated Press
Published: Updated:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Testimony is over and closing arguments were set for Friday in the federal trial of a former BP executive charged with lying to investigators about oil spill calculations he made following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Jurors were expected to begin deliberating the single count against David Rainey by midday. Conviction of making a false statement carries a possible prison sentence of up to five years.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said the defense and prosecution would each have an hour to make closing arguments to the jury Friday morning.

Rainey, then a vice president for BP Exploration and Production Co., was tasked with estimating how much oil was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico days after the April 20, 2010 explosion. Prosecutors say he manipulated his calculations to match a much-too-low early government estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. He is accused of lying to investigators about it a year later.

Defense attorneys said Rainey did the best he could with far too little information in the days after the spill – which lasted for 87 days – and he had no reason to lie about his calculations.

Eleven rig workers died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, which resulted in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. A federal judge overseeing civil litigation in the case ruled this year that roughly 3.19 million barrels spilled before the damaged well was capped – a rate of more than 36,000 barrels per day.

Rainey also faced a charge of obstructing a congressional investigation but Engelhardt dismissed that charge this week, in part because members of Congress, including Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, could not be subpoenaed to testify.

Rainey is one of a handful of people charged criminally in connection with the disaster. A former BP engineer, Kurt Mix, was convicted on one of two criminal counts in 2013 after prosecutors said he deleted text messages about the oil flow following the explosion. His conviction was overturned because a jury forewoman tainted deadlocked deliberations by mentioning she had heard something outside the trial that affirmed her view of Mix’s guilt. Prosecutors have asked an appellate court to reinstate the conviction rather than have them try Mix again.

Trial is pending for BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, who have pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges stemming from the 11 deaths.

Anthony Badalamenti, a former manager for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., BP’s cement contractor on the rig, was sentenced to one year of probation for destroying evidence in the aftermath of the spill.

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