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Signage for a BP petrol station is pictured in London July 29, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Signage for a BP petrol station is pictured in London July 29, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

BP claims program lawyer uses unique defense against corruption allegations

An attorney in BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster settlements is the center of a corruption investigation, and he’s making some fairly unusual claims in his defense.

Lionel H. Sutton III tried to deny the accusation that he received money for “expediting” specific oil spill claims through the process, according to Jennifer Larino for the Times-Picayune. During a hearing last week, Sutton attempted to tell U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier, the man responsible for presiding over the whole of the post-Deepwater Horizon disaster litigation, that there was a very embarrassing explanation for the corruption allegations.

The money in question had been paid to Sutton by two New Orleans lawyers while he worked on the claims settlement program. This money was deposited into accounted unrelated to Sutton’s legal practice. Sutton claims his rationale stemmed from a desire to hide the funds from his wife, Christine Reitano, who was also working in the claims program.

It was not the law he was hiding the funds from. Instead, Sutton wanted to keep the money secret so his wife could not spend it.

Sutton was only one of several individuals to testify at the hearing Friday. The two New Orleans Lawyers, Glen Lerner and Jon Andry, as well as Reitano were involved in the investigation. All four lawyers deny the corruption allegations.

Because former FBI director Louis Freeh is currently unable to fulfill his duties as lead investigator in the Gulf of Mexico spill following a car accident in August, he was represented by Gregory Paw. Paw seemed unimpressed with the lawyers’ defense, saying that phone and email records pointed to covert operations between them.

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