Criminal Justice

Former mining CEO is sentenced to prison in safety case

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A former mining executive has been sentenced to a year in prison for a misdemeanor conspiracy to violate federal mine safety regulations.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger, the daughter of a coal miner, sentenced former Massey Energy chief executive Donald Blankenship on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. He was also ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

In court in Charleston, West Virginia, on Wednesday, Massey said he wanted to “express sorrow to the families and everyone for what happened,” according to the New York Times account. He later maintained, however, that “I am not guilty of a crime.”

Prosecutors had alleged Massey was part of an unspoken conspiracy that encouraged employees to ignore safety standards that impaired profits. He was not directly charged, however, in the deaths of 29 people killed in a mining explosion in April 2010.

Jurors convicted Blankenship of the conspiracy charge in December 2015, but acquitted him on more serious felony charges that could have put him in prison for as long as 30 years.

See also:

ABA Journal (2012): “King Coal’s Violent Reign: Century-Old Labor Strife Still Raises Constitutional Questions”

ABA Journal (2009): “Caperton’s Coal”

ABA Journal (2005): “Mud and Money”

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