Opening arguments set in Gulf oil spill fraud case

Opening arguments are scheduled in a fraud case against a Texas lawyer accused of inflating his client list for Gulf oil spill litigation.

Online court records show prosecutors dropped 22 counts of fraud before jury selection began Monday in the case involving litigation from the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Prosecutors contend that attorney Mikal Watts of San Antonio, two non-attorney members of his law firm and four contract field workers invented victims or used real people’s names without permission to land Watts a spot on the lucrative BP litigation steering committee and inflate legal fees he might collect.

Watts has pleaded innocent along with the others.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. has said the trial is expected to take six to 10 weeks.

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