to be arraigned
NEW ORLEANS — Two BP rig supervisors and a former BP executive were scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on criminal charges stemming from the deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and the company’s response to the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were indicted this month on manslaughter charges in the death of 11 rig workers. The federal indictment accuses them of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout of BP’s Macondo well.
Former BP executive David Rainey was charged separately with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was leaking from the well.
Their defense attorneys have vowed to fight the charges.
The hearing comes a day after a BP lawyer entered a not-guilty plea for the company as it was arraigned on related criminal charges. The plea Tuesday in federal court was a procedural move paving the way for the company to plead guilty at a later date.
BP announced earlier this month that it will plead guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of Congress and other charges and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties to resolve a Justice Department probe of the disaster.
Attorneys for BP and the Justice Department are scheduled to meet Dec. 11 with a federal judge to discuss a date for pleading guilty.
The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by Transocean Ltd. but operated on behalf of BP, was drilling in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast the night of April 20, 2010, when it was rocked by an explosion. The rig burned for about 36 hours before sinking to the Gulf bottom a mile below the surface.
The bodies of 11 workers were never recovered.
Weekly jobless claims drop
BATON ROUGE — First-time claims for unemployment insurance in Louisiana for the week ending Nov. 17 decreased from the previous week’s total.
The state labor department figures released Monday show the initial claims decreased to 2,875 from the previous week’s total of 3,089. For the comparable week a year earlier, there were 4,558 initial claims.
Judge to rule on venue change in voyeurism case
LAKE CHARLES — Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the case of former Lake Charles gynecologist Peter LaFuria have agreed to allow 25 items to be entered into evidence, concluding a pretrial proceeding to suppress evidence.
State District Judge David Ritchie said Monday both sides must submit legal briefs by Dec. 13 arguing their stance on the motion to suppress evidence and a motion to change venue. Ritchie said he will issue a ruling on both motions Dec. 18.
LaFuria is charged with 186 counts of video voyeurism, 78 counts of sexual battery and five counts of molestation of a juvenile. The case dates from April 2007.
Walmart worker booked with theft of wired funds
SHREVEPORT — A 28-year-old Shreveport woman has been booked with allegedly stealing cash from a local discount store where she worked.
Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator said in a news release Deequita Lewis was employed in the money center at Wal-Mart where she fraudulently wired $6,500 and $7,500 to two other money centers in Shreveport.
Detectives say Lewis did not pay for the wired funds, and the money was received by two others with whom she allegedly shared the funds.
Lafayette board to consider projects
LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board is set to make a decision on how to spend $30 million in bond money at its meeting today.
A recommendation on how to spend the money included projects to alleviate overcrowding at two Youngsville schools and major building projects and repairs at four other schools in the district.
Recommended projects include: classroom wing additions for Youngsville Middle and Green T. Lindon Elementary, both in Youngsville; a new cafeteria and other renovations for L.J. Alleman Middle; major additions and renovations for David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy and major renovations for Lafayette High and Northside High.
Judge declares St. Landry school case complex
OPELOUSAS (AP) — A federal judge has declared as complex the case involving two St. Landry Parish School Board members charged with conspiracy to extort money in exchange for votes for a new school superintendent.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hill in Lafayette said the nature of the case makes it “unreasonable to expect adequate preparation” within the time limits established by the Speedy Trial Act. The ruling means the case could take longer than some others.
Board members Quincy Richard Sr. and John Miller were indicted Oct. 24. They were each formally charged in a three-count indictment, including one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of bribery involving federal programs.
They have pleaded not guilty.
From The Associated Press.