Judge to Rule Next Month on BP Settlement Deal

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal judge says she will decide next month whether to accept a plea deal that calls for BP PLC to pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties for its role in a deadly 2010 rig explosion and the massive oil spill it triggered in the Gulf of Mexico.

To resolve a Justice Department probe, the London-based oil giant agreed last month to plead guilty to criminal charges involving the deaths of 11 workers and lying to Congress about how much oil spilled from its blown-out well.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance scheduled a Jan. 29 hearing where she will either accept or reject BP's plea agreement with the government.

BP can withdraw its plea agreement if she rejects the deal.

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