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Halliburton pleads guilty to tampering with BP oil spill evidence

Halliburton [corporate website] pleaded guilty [DOJ press release] in US federal court on Thursday to charges that it had destroyed evidence in connection with its role in the BP oil spill in 2010. The company admitted that it had tampered with a protected computer [Reuters report], erasing 3D models of the affected wells, in order to destroy evidence of its role in the disaster. Halliburton manager Anthony Badalamenti was also formally charged Thursday with one criminal count of tampering with evidence. US District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo of the US District Court for the Eastern District Court of Louisiana accepted the plea, and imposed the statutory maximum sentence of $200,000. The company has also been placed on probation for a period of three years. Halliburton issued a press release [text] citing the DOJ's characterization of its cooperation as "exceptional," and reiterating its commitment to operating with safety and integrity. Halliburton had announced its intention to plead guilty [JURIST report] in July of this year.

The oil spill took 11 lives and flooded the coast line with as much as 4.9 million barrels of oil. In January a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana accepted a plea agreement [JURIST report] between BP [corporate website] and the DOJ for the company's criminal liability in the spill. Earlier in January Transocean Ltd. [corporate website] pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to "negligently discharging oil into the Gulf of Mexico," in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) [EPA summary] and agreed to pay $1 billion in civil penalties and $400 million in criminal penalties for its role in the Deepwater Horizon spill. A federal judge ordered [JURIST report] BP to share partial liability with Transocean in oil spill claims in January 2012. In November of last year BP executives pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to criminal charges stemming from the oil spill. Earlier that month BP agreed to pay $4.5 billion in penalties [JURIST report] for felony misconduct for its role in the spill.

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