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Judge OKs $4B BP oil spill criminal settlement

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 - 2:41 pm

NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge on Tuesday approved an agreement for BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company's role in the 2010 rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said the plea deal was "just punishment" considering the alternatives to the settlement, including the risk that a trial could result in a lower fine for BP.

Before she ruled, Vance heard emotional testimony from relatives of 11 workers who died when BP's blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and started the spill.

BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving the workers' deaths and for lying to Congress about the size of the spill from its broken well, which spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil.