Gulf oil spill: Corruption investigation targets to be in court Tuesday for status conference

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NEW ORLEANS — The federal judge hearing 2010 oil spill cases says he'll decide soon whether he needs more than written evidence and arguments to rule on an investigation of alleged corruption within the settlement program.

District Judge Carl Barbier (BARB-yay) said during a Tuesday status conference the big question is whether two attorneys paid claims office attorney Lionel Sutton to expedite a law firm's $8 million claim, or whether he just did his job.

Ex-FBI director Louis Freeh has recommended disqualifying the claim and disqualifying those lawyers and Sutton's wife from representing oil spill claims.

Their lawyers want a hearing. They say statements conflict, so the judge needs to see and hear witnesses to tell who's truthful.

Barbier says he'll decide as soon as possible whether to hold a hearing.

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