A prominent Texas lawyer was acquitted on Thursday of charges he made up thousands of fake clients to sue BP for damages that the oil company caused in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill. The man was among five defendants found not guilty by a Mississippi federal jury of charges related to an alleged scheme to defraud a program set up by BP to compensate people who suffered economic losses from the spill. Two other defendants were found guilty. The U.S. Department of Justice had accused the defendants of submitting claims on behalf of more than 40,000 people who had not agreed to be represented by Watts’ firm, or else were identified with stolen or bogus Social Security numbers and other personal information.
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