Former Halliburton manager accused of destroying evidence after 2010 oil spill
NEW ORLEANS — A former Halliburton manager was charged on Thursday with destroying evidence after BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a case that coincides with a guilty plea to a related charge by the Houston-based oilfield services company.
Anthony Badalamenti, who had been the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., was charged in federal court with instructing two other employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out well.
Halliburton was BP PLC's cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the gulf in April 2010, killing 11 workers and triggering the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
Badalamenti, 61, of Katy, Texas, is charged in a bill of information, which typically signals that a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors. His attorney, Tai H. Park, declined to comment.
On Thursday, a federal judge accepted a plea agreement that calls for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti's alleged conduct.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo said she believes the plea agreement is reasonable and agreed with prosecutors and the company that it “adequately reflects the seriousness of the offense.”
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that Halliburton's guilty plea and the charge against Badalamenti “mark the latest steps forward in the Justice Department's efforts to achieve justice on behalf of all those affected by the Deepwater Horizon explosion, oil spill and environmental disaster.”
The plea deal has its critics, however. Allison Fisher, an outreach director for the Public Citizen nonprofit advocacy group, called it a “travesty.”
“Rather than rubber stamp the plea agreement,” she said in a statement, “the court should have rejected the bargain-basement deal because it fails to hold the corporation accountable for its criminal acts and will not deter future corporate crime.”