Update: Yup, Watts is coming to Gulfport.
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Original post on October 28: The U.S. Attorney issued the following press release today:
TO: Media Representatives
FROM: Sheila Wilbanks
Secretary to U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis
RE: Press Conference
U.S. Attorney’s Office – Gulfport, MS
Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
LOCATION: U.S. Attorney=s Conference Room
1575 20th Avenue, Second Floor
COMMENTS: U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Craig Caldwell will announce a significant indictment
Kingfish note: Has anyone suddenly resigned this year?
Update: Mr. Matt Eichelberger, Esq. checked in from SoDoSoPa to notify us in a comment that the subject of the indictment might be Mikal Watts. Texas media reports and the Insurance Journal seem to confirm this comment.
The Insurance Journal reported on its website last week:
Texas lawyer Mikal Watts has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Mississippi for allegedly filing false claims for thousands of Vietnamese fishermenseeking damages from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to his attorney.
The indictment couldn’t be immediately confirmed in court records in Mississippi. Rob McDuff, a lawyer for Watts, said the indictment remained under seal and he declined to specify the charges.
Watts previously said he represented more than 42,000 spill-damage victims, many of them immigrant Vietnamese fishermen and deckhands who couldn’t speak English. He denied all wrongdoing in a statement issued by his lawyer.
He said the government has “joined BP” in an “attack” similar to the lawsuit the oil company lodged almost two years ago alleging that he filed claims with fake Social Security numbers and on behalf of individuals who were dead or hadn’t hired him.
“After years of waiting, I will now finally have my day in court,” Watts said in the statement. He said that he had initially filed some damage claims based on “inaccurate information” and for individuals who hadn’t authorized them. Watts said he wasn’t aware of these misrepresentations at the time he filed the papers, and he promptly stopped whenever anyone notified him of discrepancies or asked him not to represent them. Rest of article.
The San Antonio Express News also reported similar news last week:
A federal grand jury in Mississippi has indicted nationally recognized plaintiff's lawyer and Democratic stalwart Mikal Watts of San Antonio, his brother and contract employees on charges of making false claims and identity theft in relation to the litigation involving BP over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the San Antonio Express-News has confirmed.
The charges stem from allegations that Watts fraudulently bolstered the number of clients he had with claims against BP to get a seat on a steering committee, an elite group of lawyers appointed to manage the plaintiff's side of the litigation.
Lawyers on such committees typically reap a financial bonanza for their efforts. Watts helped negotiate a $2.3 billion settlement against BP, a chunk of that for fishermen and deckhands that he purported to represent.
At one point, Watts claimed to represent more than 44,000 clients.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Mississippi would not confirm the indictment Wednesday. Other sources confirmed to the Express-News that it came down last week, but it is still under seal because the defendants have yet to appear in court. In many federal courts, indictments are unsealed once a defendant makes an initial appearance. The Watts brothers are expected for initial appearances in Mississippi as soon as next week, the Express-News confirmed. Rest of article.
Texas superlawyers, anyone?