A former BP executive accused of lying to the U.S. government about the amount of oil that spilled after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster wants his case halted while a federal appeals court considers whether one of the key charges he faces is valid.
David Rainey is charged with making false statements to federal investigators and obstruction of Congress.
In May, U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt threw out the obstruction charge in part because the law Rainey was charged under does not apply to congressional subcommittee investigations.
The next month, prosecutors filed a new indictment against Rainey, resurrecting the obstruction charge. In it, they made largely cosmetic changes to some of the wording in hopes of alleviating the judge’s concerns. At the same time, prosecutors have asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Engelhardt’s original ruling, apparently worried about the impact the ruling, if it stands, may have on the case going forward.
In a motion filed Thursday, Rainey’s attorneys said that because of that appeal, all further proceedings in the criminal case should be stayed pending the resolution of the appeal.
“While Mr. Rainey has no desire to delay this case, the task force’s effort to obtain two bites in two different courts before deciding how to proceed is contrary to law and wasteful of the resources of this court, the court of appeals, and the parties,” the attorneys said.
They urged the court to “avoid proceeding while jurisdiction is in doubt and engaging in substantial litigation on a superseding indictment that may ultimately be moot.”
There was no immediate ruling from Engelhardt on the request.
Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is currently scheduled for trial in March.
Two BP well-site leaders and a former BP engineer also face charges in the oil spill case and are awaiting trial. Well owner BP and rig owner Transocean pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to pay hefty fines. Cement contractor Halliburton is scheduled to plead guilty Sept. 19 to destroying evidence after the spill.