UPDATE — The first person arrested in the BP oil spill is being released on $100,000 bail.
The former BP engineer, Kurt Mix, is accused of deleting more than 300 text messages about the amount of oil flowing from the blown-out well and the company's failed attempts to plug the gusher in 2010.
Mix appeared before a judge in Houston, shackled at his hands and feet. He said very little during the hearing, answering routine questions about the obstruction of justice charges he faces.
The judge told him that if convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.
An attorney for Mix declined to comment after the hearing.
*This is an update to previous AP coverage below.Check back for updates.*
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Justice Department said on Tuesday it filed the first criminal charges in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, accusing a former BP engineer of destroying evidence.
Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, was arrested on two counts of obstruction of justice.
The Justice Department says the 50-year-old Mix is accused of deleting a string of 200 text messages with a BP supervisor in October 2010 that involved internal BP information about how efforts to cap the well were failing.
BP officials did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
Justice Department officials said Mix would make an initial appearance in federal court in Houston on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in New Orleans is expected to consider a motion to approve a $7.8 billion civil settlement between BP and a committee of plaintiffs in a civil case.
The BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded the night of April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and setting off the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was capped.