Texas attorney Mikal Watts was indicted by a Mississippi federal grand jury last week for allegedly filing fraudulent claims tied to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, Watts was indicted last week on charges of identity theft and making false claims after BP accused him of filing claims on behalf of non-existent and even deceased claimants as part of the Seafood Compensation Program tied to the spill.
Watts allegedly tried to boost the number of clients he had with claims against BP in an effort to win a seat on the plaintiff’s steering committee, the paper said.
He resigned from the steering committee in 2013 after BP’s allegations became public.
Watts is currently a partner at Houston-based Watts and Guerra.
Mikal’s brother David Watts was also named in the indictment.
BP filed suit against Watts in December 2013, alleging that only 42 percent of the Social Security numbers tied to claims he filed could have their identities confirmed. .
Another 13 percent were incomplete or dummy numbers and 5 percent belonged to deceased persons other than the claimants, BP’s suit charged.
Watts has denied any wrongdoing.
In a statement provided to the paper Watts’ lawyer said his client was not aware that information he had been provided with was inaccurate when he filed lawsuits against BP.
“After years of waiting, I will now have my day in court. I look forward to a speedy trial and the opportunity to prove to a jury that I am not guilty of any crimes,” Watts told the San Antonio Express-News.
As of last week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Jackson, Mississippi, had not confirmed the indictment.
In 2007, Watts ran for a senate seat in Texas but pulled out of the race after his ties to Mauricio Celis, who was eventually convicted of impersonating a lawyer in 2009, were reveled.