The Latest: Jurors considering oil spill fraud evidence



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GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a fraud case alleging a Texas lawyer and six others submitted fake oil spill claims. (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

Mississippi jurors are now considering the case against a Texas lawyer and six others indicted on charges that they signed up fake clients after 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill and submitted false claims.

A federal judge handed the case over to the jury Wednesday afternoon after prosecutors and the seven defendants made closing arguments.

San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts and six others are charged with 66 felony counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors say contractors for Watts faked a list of 40,000 clients and that even if Watts didn't initially know it was bogus, he learned of the problems.

Defendants, though say the government didn't prove its case, saying prosecutors never showed that Watts and other defendants ever had criminal intent.

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3:30 a.m.

Jurors in Mississippi are set to begin weighing whether they believe a Texas lawyer and six others faked damage claims after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday in the criminal trial in Gulfport. San Antonio lawyer Mikal Watts and his co-defendants face 66 charges.

Prosecutors say the seven people created a list of bogus plaintiffs including people who died before the spill and people whose names and Social Security numbers were used without permission.

Watts and other defendants conducted a shorter defense than they originally projected in the case, which began July 20. The defendants argue the government hasn't proved they intended to defraud anyone. Watts, his brother David Watts and law partner Hector Eloy Guerra filed motions seeking acquittal Tuesday as the trial ended.

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The Associated Press

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