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BP Settles Criminal Case With Justice Department

The Justice Department says the fines from record-setting criminal penalties settled with BP over its oil spill will mostly stay in the Gulf Coast. Because Louisiana took the brunt of the damage, it will take most of the money.

Attorney General Eric Holder says much of the $4.5 billion settlement with BP will pay for barrier islands, coastal restoration and other projects in Louisiana. He says it was based on the Restore Act, which calls for 80 percent of civil fines to be split between the Gulf States based on damage sustained.

“The way in which this money has been apportioned is not the way in which we typically apportion money at the end of a case like this," Holder said. "We have tried to be sensitive to that which Congress has expressed in the passage of the Restore Act.”

Senator Mary Landrieu, who spearheaded the legislation, says the settlement will send $1.2 billion dollars to Louisiana.

Three BP employees have been indicted on criminal charges — two supervisors on the Deepwater Horizon and one who allegedly lied to Congress. Holder says he can assure families of the 11 workers killed in the explosion that there’s been a change in the corporate culture that led to the disaster. The company has admitted to felony manslaughter. The three defendants have not.

“There’s nothing that we can do to bring those loved ones back. On the other hand, this is an indication, perhaps a vindication that we have shown and the company has admitted that as a result of their actions people died there unnecessarily," Holder said. "Manslaughter has been charged. Manslaughter has been pled to.”

Holder says negotiations continue over civil penalties. That case is set for trial in federal court in New Orleans in February.

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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