Massey Energy Valued Profits over People: Massey official admits that if Massey had consistently followed the safety laws, coal production would have been decreased.
According to WV MetroNews, a former Massey Energy coal company official has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from safety violations at mines he operated.
The charges against David C. Hughart, the former President of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, are a result of the ongoing investigation into the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine that killed 29 miners.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Hughart will plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy. He faces up to six years in prison. Hughart is the fourth Massey official so far to be criminally charged in connection with the UBB investigation. According to federal documents, Hughart operated Massey Energy subsidiary mines in Nicholas County that routinely violated health and safety laws “because of a belief that consistently following those laws would decrease coal production.”
Additionally, Hughart was responsible for illegal advance warnings at his mines when federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors arrived. According to the federal document charging Hughart, “If these routine mine health and safety violations were detected by MSHA, the resulting citations and orders could result in coal production being stopped.”
Goodwin says it was a case of putting production ahead of safety.
“He wasn’t acting alone,” Goodwin said on Wednesday’s MetroNews Talkline. “The very nature of the conspiracy is that he acted in concert with other individuals, not just at Green Valley, but at other coal operations in Massey Energy.”
Federal investigators have been probing Massey operations since the April 2010 disaster at UBB. An MSHA investigation released last year found that flagrant safety violations contributed to a massive coal dust explosion that killed the miners.
Former UBB Mine Superintendent Gary May and the former head of security at the mine, Hughie Elbert Stover, have both been convicted of charges stemming from the disaster. A former UBB worker, Thomas Harrah, has also pleaded guilty to lying about being a foreman when he acted as one at UBB.
A judge has denied a motion to delay the sentencing of Gary May, a former superintendent of the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine, so the January 17th sentencing will go on as planned. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger denied prosecutors’ request for a postponement, saying they’d failed to “state good cause.” Gary May pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in March.
May’s sentencing is set for Jan. 17, 2013 in Beckley. He’s cooperating with federal authorities in the ongoing criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion at the former Massey Energy mine where 29 men died in an explosion.
Additionally, Alpha Natural Resources, which bought out Massey after the disaster, has reached a $209 million dollar settlement in the case.
The UBB mine, located in Raleigh County, is permanently closed.
Coal Mine Injury and Wrongful Death Attorney
West Virginia coal miners are among the hardest working professionals in America. Despite strong MSHA regulations, coal mining continues to be one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Every year, miners are injured or killed because the coal operators continue to circumvent or violate safety laws for the protection of the miners.
The UBB disaster illustrates the continued need for integrity in safety compliance and inspections to prevent the untimely deaths of people who are simply trying to earn a living. Unscrupulous companies that seek maximum profits by ignoring safety concerns must be held accountable.
Attorney Jeff Robinette has litigated complex work-related injury and death cases caused by workplace hazards. Our law firm has significant experience in litigating complex coal mine cases – like the Sago Mine explosion – where serious injuries and deaths occurred.
Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers. Call us today: 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide.
Source: WAJR/WV MetroNews: http://www.wvmetronews.com/index.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=56579&type=