Former FBI Director Louis Freeh will head up the investigation into an office that runs BP's oil disaster settlement fund. The company already has cut checks to impacted businesses and residences and paid billions of dollars in cleanup costs.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, who presides over cases related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and ensuing settlements, appointed Freeh July 2. The latest investigation stems from allegations that a law firm provided attorney Lionel Sutton III kickbacks from settlement claims he referred to the firm before he began working under BP claims administrator Patrick Juneau. BP also has accused Juneau of changing the terms of settlements to award billions of dollars in unnecessary claims, though Barbier defended Juneau. Sutton resigned in June, and now Freeh will lead a probe into the office.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will hold a hearing July 8 to determine if Juneau played by the rules.
Freeh served as FBI director from 1993 to 2001, and in 2011 he was hired by Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees to investigate allegations of child molestation by Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Meanwhile, Capt. Thomas Sparks replaced Capt. Duke Walker as the federal on-scene coordinator for the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team, aka the cleanup crew. Sparks is the seventh on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon response, which consists of more than 380 people along the Gulf Coast working with the Coast Guard and BP contractors. In Louisiana, 103 miles of coast are under "active cleanup operations." — Alex Woodward