The U.S. Department of Justice dropped all obstruction of justice charges against former BP engineer Kurt Mix on Friday, nearly four years after the agency alleged Mix had deleted messages concerning the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident.
Mix, who was represented by Joan McPhee of Ropes & Gray LLP, pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge for deleting a single text message conversation he had with a personal friend who was also a co-worker.
According to Reuters, Mix was sentenced to six months of probation along with 60 hours of community service for intentionally damaging a protected computer without authorization.
Mix’s attorneys said the texts in question were “entirely personal in nature and did not include anything important about the oil spill.”
“I’m thankful that the Department of Justice has finally acknowledged that I did not engage in any act to obstruct justice….This is not a fight I ever wanted, but I was never going to give in to the false accusation that I obstructed justice,” Mix said.
A December 2013 obstruction of justice conviction against Mix was tossed out by a Louisiana judge last year after juror misconduct was discovered.
The case began in 2011 after the DOJ alleged Mix deleted text message conversations pertaining to the Deepwater spill after authorities had told him to preserve the exchanges.
“The resolution of this case is a vindication of Kurt Mix and an acknowledgment by the Department of Justice that Kurt never acted to obstruct justice. It is an affirmation of Kurt’s innocence of the charges that the Department of Justice has been pursuing for over four years,” McPhee said.
Last month, BP reached a $20.8 billion civil settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and five Gulf states to resolve civil claims tied to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident that caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history and killed 11 people.