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WASHINGTON: Halliburton pleads guilty

Halliburton Energy Services has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the Department of Justice said Thursday. A news release said a criminal information charging Halliburton with one count of destruction of evidence was filed in federal court in Louisiana. Halliburton agreed to pay the maximum fine, be on probation for three years and continue to cooperate with the government's criminal investigation, according to the release. The Houston-based company has also made a $55 million voluntary contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. That was not a condition of the court agreement, the news release said. The company said Thursday night it had agreed to plead guilty "to one misdemeanor violation associated with the deletion of records created after the Macondo well incident, to pay the statutory maximum fine of $200,000 and to accept a term of three years probation."

LOUISIANA: Fire out on blown-out well

A Gulf of Mexico drilling rig that caught fire after a natural gas blowout appears stable, now that the fire is out, and there was no sign of any oil sheen on a flyover Thursday morning, a rig company executive said. "The well essentially snuffed itself out," said Jim Noe, a vice president with rig owner Hercules Offshore Inc. The well had blown wild Tuesday, forcing the evacuation of 44 workers. The rig caught fire that night and part of it collapsed.

VERMONT: Outcry over sex offender

Prison officials have a new plan for a high-risk sex offender due to be released: He's moving out of state, but they won't say where. Dale Crook of the state Corrections Department said Timothy Szad, 53, will leave Vermont after his release Friday. Crook said the department is notifying local police in the place where Szad is going. Szad had been expected to live with family in Springfield, but a public outcry prompted the family to withdraw its offer of housing. Szad was convicted in 2001 in a sexual assault against a 13-year-old boy.

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