The former Massey Energy chief
scorned by regulators and a U.S. senator might face 3 decades
in jail if convicted of charges stemming from a West Virginia
mine blast that killed 29 workers, a misfortune U.S. coal
industry collision in roughly 40 years.
Donald Blankenship was charged in an complaint by a U.S.
grand jury in Charleston, West Virginia, with violating federal
mine reserve standards, stopping regulator efforts to check the
Upper Big Branch cave and bonds fraud. Massey was acquired
by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) in 2011 for $7.1 billion.
A inspect of a 2010 blast found managers urged miners
to omit simple reserve measures, such as determining spark dust
and ensuring a cave had correct ventilation, as partial of a push
to boost production.
Blankenship is indicted of creation fake statements about the
company’s reserve practices before to a explosion, and
misleading investors, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin pronounced yesterday
in a statement. If a former arch executive officer is
convicted on a 4 rapist charges, he faces a maximum
penalty of 31 years in prison, Goodwin said.
West Virginia U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat,
said currently Blankenship’s complaint is another step toward
acknowledging a detriment suffered by a families of a miners
killed in a explosion.
“Don Blankenship, and a mines he once operated, treated
miners and their reserve with callousness and open disregard,”
Rockefeller pronounced in an e-mailed statement. “As he goes to
trial, he will be treated distant fairer and with some-more grace than
he ever treated a miners he employed.”
Tom Flaherty, a West Virginia counsel who has represented
Blankenship in lawsuits over a Upper Big Branch mine
explosion, didn’t immediately lapse a call yesterday seeking
comment on a indictment.
Blankenship pronounced in a 2013 blog posting, “If they put me
behind bars,” any self-assurance would be tied to politics,
according to a West Virginia Gazette newspaper.
“Under Don Blankenship’s leadership, Massey Energy
committed years of gross violations of sovereign cave safety
laws,” David Uhlmann, a University of Michigan law professor
and former conduct of a Justice Department’s environmental crimes
division, pronounced in an e-mailed statement.
“If a Justice Department can infer that Blankenship knew
about those violations and authorised them to start underneath his
watch, he deserves to be prosecuted to a full border of the
law,” Uhlmann said.
Blankenship is a highest-ranking former Massey executive
to face rapist charges over a company’s business practices
and a doing of a Upper Big Branch Mine.
David Hughart, another Massey executive, was convicted in
2013 of conspiring to violate cave reserve laws in connection
with a disaster. Hughart was condemned to 3 1/2 years in
prison for dubious cave inspectors.
Hughie Elbert Stover, a mine’s former confidence chief, was
convicted of fibbing to investigators about Massey’s use of
warning miners when reserve inspectors arrived during their
facilities and afterwards grouping a drop of some documents.
He was condemned to 3 years in prison.
As partial of their review into Massey’s operations,
federal prosecutors found a spark association kept dual sets of
books in an try to fool regulators, and threatened workers
to keep them from stating violations.
Massey operated a mines “in a profoundly unsure manner,”
according to a 2011 news by former sovereign cave administrator
J. Davitt McAteer, named by then-West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin to inspect a blast. Manchin, a Democrat, is now a U.S.
“While violations of sold reserve standards led to
the conditions that caused a explosion, a wrong policies
and practices implemented by” Massey officials were during a root
cause of a Upper Big Branch disaster, officials of a U.S.
Mine Safety and Health Administration resolved in their report.
Some of Blankenship’s critics pronounced they were astounded it
took some-more than 4 years for a executive to face criminal
charges over a cave disaster.
“I’m not a slightest bit astounded that Don Blankenship
finally got indicted over a Upper Big Branch disaster,” said
David Fawcett, a Pittsburgh profession who has sued Massey over
its business practices. “The male has an endless record of
engaging in controversial business practices over a years.”
Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha, that combined a world’s
third-largest spark writer by appropriation Massey, concluded in 2013
to compensate some-more than $209 million to solve a sovereign criminal
investigation into a explosion.
The association also paid $265 million to settle a
Massachusetts grant fund’s lawsuit accusing a association of
misleading investors about a reserve record.
Alpha still faces claims in Delaware Chancery Court from
investors over Massey’s business practices. The cases were put
on reason while a rapist review was ongoing.
The shareholder box that staid was Commonwealth of
Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust v. Massey
Energy, 10-cv-00689, U.S. District Court, Southern District of
West Virginia (Beckley).
To hit a contributor on this story:
Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at
To hit a editors obliged for this story:
Michael Hytha at