U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola on Wednesday sentenced Gregory Warren, 52, of Lafayette, Louisiana, to 17 years in prison and fined him $250,000 in a BP-fraud case that saw San Antonio attorney Mikal Watts and four others acquitted.
The only other defendant found guilty in the case, Thi Houng “Kristy” Le, 34, of Grand Bay, Alabama, was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined $25,000.
Both were convicted on 66 counts each of conspiring to commit fraud, mail fraud, identity theft and aggravated identity theft.
Watts was paying Warren and Le to find clients injured by the 2010 BP oil catastrophe.
The jury concluded Warren and Le, who set up a claims office in Biloxi, turned over to Watts the names and personal information of people who had not been injured in the spill, were dead or didn’t exist. The jury found know no evidence Watts and the other acquitted associates knew the “clients” were bogus.
Warren, a former pastor in Hammond, Louisiana, received a longer sentence partly because he had previously pleaded guilty in a case involving solicitation of clients for an attorney suing the manufacturer of the drug Fen-Phen. In that case, a court concluded Warren and others manufactured documents in an attempt to prove clients had used Fen-Phen.
Staff writer Robin Fitzgerald contributed to this report.