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Gulf oil spill: BP's record $4 billion criminal plea deal gets judge's OK

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“The plain and simple fact here is BP killed my son in their efforts to speed up operations, to save time, and money,” Billy Fred Anderson wrote to the judge on behalf of his son, Jason, who died on the offshore rig.

Chris Jones wrote on behalf of his brother, Gordon, whose wife was eight months pregnant with their second son at the time of the disaster. He wants an apology.

“Never once has BP … ever told any member of our family that they are sorry for our loss,” Chris Jones said in his letter. He said top BP executives and members of its board of directors should come personally to the Jones home in Baton Rouge to meet his brother’s widow and two sons.

“I would expect each of them to look each of them in the eye and tell them they are sorry,” he wrote.

Judge Vance told the relatives in court that she had read their “gut-wrenching” submissions and considered their statements before making her decision. She added that she agreed that BP should have issued a personal apology to the families, according to the Associated Press.

“I think BP should have done that out of basic humanity,” the AP quoted the judge as saying.

Federal prosecutors and lawyers for BP submitted a 59-page memorandum to Judge Vance urging her to accept the deal.

The company agreed to plead guilty to the 14 federal charges in November. But the agreement was contingent on the judge accepting the agreement and the proposed punishment.

“The proposed Plea Agreement is a fair, just, reasonable, and appropriately punitive resolution of BP’s criminal liability,” they wrote.

Lawyers said that under one scenario, had the case gone to trial, criminal fines against BP could have been capped at $8.19 million under a federal law.

The $4 billion payment dwarfs the government’s next largest criminal fine of $1.3 billion assessed against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in 2009.  

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