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Judge Tosses Counts In Criminal Case Tied To Pipeline Blast

(AP) - A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed more than half of the felony counts in the U.S. government's criminal case against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. stemming from a natural-gas explosion that killed eight people.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that District Court Judge Thelton Henderson on Wednesday tossed out 15 of the 27 pipeline safety violations on which PG&E was indicted last year.

Henderson agreed with the utility's lawyers that the disallowed counts were too duplicative of offenses already covered in the indictment and could unfairly prejudice a jury.

Along with a representative sample of alleged safety violations, the judge let stand an obstruction of justice charge based on the assertion that PG&E lied to National Transportation Safety Board investigators after the fatal 2010 blast in the city of San Bruno.