5 plead not guilty in Gulf oil spill fraud case; 2 absent
GULFPORT, Miss. - A Texas attorney and four co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to accusations of faking more than 40,000 damage claims after the BP oil spill in 2010.
A public defender says a sixth defendant will do the same later.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Dowdy said afterward that federal investigators haven't located the seventh defendant, Gregory Warren, of Lafayette, Louisiana.
An indictment unsealed Thursday charges each with 95 counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, identity theft and aggravated identity theft. Total maximum penalties include $23.7 million in fines and 709 years in prison.
An attorney for Mikal Watts, the Texas lawyer, say Watts and two employees, including Watts' brother, are innocent.