Ex-BP executive fights charge he obstructed congressional oil spill probe; still faces trial


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NEW ORLEANS — A former BP executive accused of obstructing a congressional investigation into the 2010 Gulf oil spill remains on track for a trial next year, despite defense efforts to have the charges dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt on Wednesday declined to throw out one count against David Rainey and took under advisement defense motions to throw out another, a Justice Department spokesman said after the morning hearing.

Rainey was first indicted in November 2012 in a House subcommittee probe into the oil spill that began with the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. It killed 11 workers and resulted in millions of gallons of oil being spewed into the Gulf.

He pleaded not guilty Wednesday to an updated version of the indictment against him, according to court records. He remains free on bond and is set for trial March 9.

One count says Rainey obstructed Congress. The other charges him with making false statements regarding his calculations on the rate at which oil was flowing from BP's Macondo well after the explosion.

Among the defense arguments: one count is unconstitutionally vague; the congressional subcommittee investigation that Rainey is accused of obstructing had not been properly authorized; and one of the charges takes Rainey's statements about the flow rate from the well out of context.

Engelhardt threw out one count of the original indictment and a federal appeals court later reinstated it. Meanwhile, prosecutors fine-tuned the charges in another indictment.

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