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Judge urged to accept Halliburton's guilty plea

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Oil spill cover upHalliburton Energy Services and Justice Department prosecutors have urged a federal judge to approve a plea deal that calls for the Houston-based company to pay a $200,000 fine for destroying evidence after BP's 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a court filing Thursday, Halliburton and prosecutors said the company's agreement to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge imposes "fair, just, and appropriate corporate punishment" and reflects its "full, truthful and ongoing cooperation" with the government's spill probe.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo will decide whether to accept the deal at a hearing in New Orleans scheduled for Sept. 19.

Halliburton was the cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded, killing 11 workers, following the April 2010 blowout of BP's Macondo well.

The fine that Halliburton agreed to pay is the statutory maximum for the charge it faces, destruction of evidence. The company also has agreed to be on probation for three years and make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment wasn't a condition of the plea deal.

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