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Judge approves BP's guilty plea to criminal charges, $4 billion in oil spill penalties

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has approved an agreement for BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company's role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving the deaths of 11 workers aboard the drilling rig that exploded and for lying to Congress.

Before ruling today, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance heard testimony from relatives of workers who died when BP's blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in April, 2010.

More than 200 million gallons of oil spewed from the well about 50 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast before it was capped three months later.

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