A federal judge in Louisiana has dismissed a charge against a former BP plc executive accused of obstructing a congressional investigation concerning the Macondo well blowout in April 2010.

U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt on Monday ruled in favor of David Rainey in a 44-page ruling, one of several pre-trial motions concerning the Gulf of Mexico well blowout and oil spill (United States of America v. David Rainey, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 12-29).

The government failed to allege knowledge of a pending congressional investigation, and the law Rainey was charged under did not apply to congressional subcommittee investigations, the judge ruled.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), whose inquiry was the basis for the obstruction charge, said he thought the ruling was incorrect.

“When a judge undercuts Congress’ ability to keep companies like BP honest, he undercuts the voice of Americans everywhere,” Markey said. “This was a congressional investigation, plain and simple, and this kind of narrow and off-the-wall interpretation of how Congress investigates wrongdoing is deeply troubling.”

Rainey still faces a felony charge for making false statements to federal investigators. If he is convicted, he could face a maximum five-year prison sentence (see Daily GPI, Nov. 16, 2012).

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