NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lawyers for two BP oil rig workers say the Justice Department is trying to make scapegoats out of them.
The two were indicted today on federal charges including manslaughter, in the deaths of 11 workers in the rig explosion that led to the Gulf oil spill two and a half years ago.
Another man, a BP official, is charged with obstruction of Congress, for allegedly withholding information on how much oil was spewing from the blown-out well.
BP, meanwhile, has agreed to pay a record $4.5 billion in a settlement with the government. It includes nearly $1.3 billion in fines, the biggest criminal penalty in U.S. history. And Attorney General Eric Holder says much of the money will be used to restore the Gulf.
The settlement may not make much of a dent on the company's finances. BP made a record $25.8 billion in profits last year. And it will be given five years to pay.
The environmental group Greenpeace is criticizing the settlement as a slap on the wrist.
But the company still faces huge additional claims -- including billions of dollars in civil penalties the government is seeking under the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws. And a judge in New Orleans is considering a separate proposed settlement of $7.8 billion between BP and more than 100,000 businesses and individuals who say they were harmed by the spill.
255-a-12-(Robert Khuzami (koo-ZAH'-mee), SEC Enforcement Division director, at news conference)-"BP had estimated"-SEC Enforcement Division Director Robert Khuzami says a BP executive has been indicted on charges that he lied to authorities about his work estimating the rate oil was flowing during the 2010 Gulf oil spill disaster. (15 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *255 (11/15/12)>> 00:12 "BP had estimated"
253-a-16-(Attorney General Eric Holder, at news conference)-"that are warranted"-Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal probe into the huge oil spill continues. ((refers to Thursday as 'today') (15 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *253 (11/15/12)>> 00:16 "that are warranted"
186-a-14-(Casi (KAY'-see) Callaway, executive director of the environmental group Mobile Baykeeper, in AP interview)-"is a crime"-Environmental activist Casi Callaway says she wanted murder charges filed in the deaths of the 11 rig workers. (15 Nov 2012)
<<CUT *186 (11/15/12)>> 00:14 "is a crime"
GRAPHICSBANK: Eric Holder headshot, as US Attorney General, speaking about 2010 Gulf Oil Spill settlement and criminal penalties, New Orleans, Louisiana, graphic element on gray (15 Nov 2012)
APPHOTO LAMH101: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks about the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill settlement and criminal penalties at 400 Poydras Tower in the Central Business District of in New Orleans, La. Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012. Holder said the settlement and indictments aren't the end of federal authorities' efforts and that the criminal investigation is continuing. Holder says much of the money BP has agreed to pay will be used to restore the environment in the Gulf. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) (15 Nov 2012)
<<APPHOTO LAMH101 (11/15/12)>>
APPHOTO NY615: FILE - In this Saturday, June 26, 2010 file picture, an oil-drenched bird struggles to climb onto a boom from the waters of Barataria Bay, La., which are filled with oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. An April 20, 2010 explosion at the offshore platform killed 11 men, and the subsequent leak released an estimated 172 million gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (26 Jun 2010)
<<APPHOTO NY615 (06/26/10)>>
APPHOTO NY601: FILE - In this April 21, 2010 file photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, fire boat response crews spray water on the blazing remnants of BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. An April 20, 2010 explosion at the offshore platform killed 11 men, and the subsequent leak released an estimated 172 million gallons of petroleum into the gulf. (AP Photo/US Coast Guard, File) (21 Apr 2010)
<<APPHOTO NY601 (04/21/10)>>