(CBS/AP) - A former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty Tuesday to
Anthony Badalamenti, 62, faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence. Prosecutors said Badalamenti, who was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., BP's cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon, instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP's blown-out Macondo well.
Last month, a federal judge accepted a separate plea agreement calling for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti's conduct. Halliburton also agreed to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.
The April 20, 2010 rig explosion killed 11 workers and led to America's worst offshore oil spill.
Halliburton notified investigators from a Justice Department task force about the deletion of data. Efforts to recover the data weren't successful.
During Tuesday's hearing, U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey pressed the attorneys to explain how Badalamenti's actions amounted to a crime.
"Where's the criminal intent?" he asked.
Tai Park, one of Badalamenti's attorneys, said the misdemeanor charge to which his client pleaded guilty doesn't require "criminal intent, in the sense of willfulness."
Justice Department prosecutor William Pericak said Badalamenti intentionally ordered the deletion of the data even though another Halliburton executive instructed him to preserve all material related to BP's blown-out well.
Judge Zainey is expected to impose a sentence on Jan. 21.
Badalamenti wasn't the first individual charged with a crime stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but he is the first to plead guilty.
BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine await a trial next year on manslaughter charges stemming from the rig workers' deaths. They botched a key safety test and disregarded abnormally high pressure readings that were glaring signs of trouble before the well blowout, prosecutors say.
Former BP executive David Rainey is charged with concealing information from Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing from the blown-out well in 2010. Former BP engineer Kurt Mix is charged with deleting text messages and voicemails about the company's response to the spill.
Two floors down from the courtroom where Badalamenti pleaded guilty, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is presiding over a trial for spill-related civil litigation. For the trial's second phase, Barbier is hearing dueling estimates from experts for BP and the federal government about the amount of oil that spewed into the Gulf.