Criminal Justice

Lawyer accuses US of 'ridiculousness' after acquittal in Gulf oil spill fraud case

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A Texas lawyer who once claimed to represent more than 44,000 victims in the BP Gulf oil spill has been acquitted of charges that he falsified claims.

Federal jurors in Gulfport, Mississippi, acquitted lawyer Mikal Watts on Thursday, report Reuters, the Sun Herald and the Associated Press. Jurors also acquitted two nonlawyers from Watts’ San Antonio law firm and two field representatives.

Jurors did convict Gregory Warren of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Thi Houng “Kristy” Le of Grand Bay, Alabama, who were paid by Watts to find clients. They were convicted on 66 counts that included conspiracy, fraud and identity theft.

Watts told AP that the case against him “fell part under its own weight of ridiculousness.” He had represented himself at trial, which lasted nearly five weeks.

Watts said in the AP interview that he and others were victims of fraud by the two convicted defendants.

Prosecutors had said the claimant list included the names of dead people, people who didn’t exist, and people who hadn’t agreed to the legal representation. Also on the list was “Lucy Lu,” who turned out to be a dog, the indictment had alleged.

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