Ex-Massey official gets 3.5 years in prison in mine safety conspiracy – by Dorothy Kosich (Mineweb.com – September 12, 2013)


The 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster that killed 29 miners in West Virginia has resulted in prison sentences and jail time for 4 former Massey executives and supervisors so far.

RENO (MINEWEB) – The former president of Massey Energy’s White Buck Coal and the Green Valley Resource Group, David Hughart, 53, has become the highest-ranking coal official to date to be sentenced to prison for violating U.S. mine health and safety standards.

In addition to a 42-month prison sentence, Hughart was also ordered to serve an additional three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Beth Goodwin.

Although Hughart never worked at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia–where 29 men were killed in April 2010 in the largest coal disaster in 40 years–he admitted that he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and to conceal those violations by warning mine operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct mine inspections.

His cooperation with the criminal investigation of the mine disaster revealed that Massey Energy schemed to avoid compliance with what federal regulators said was even basic safety practices. The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the IRS-Criminal Investigation division.

In February Hughart pled guilty to two federal charges: conspiracy to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and conspiracy to violate mine health and safety laws. In an earlier court hearing U.S. District Court Judge Irene Berger asked Hughart to identify the participants in the conspiracy. “The CEO,” he responded in a reference to powerful former Massey CEO Don Blankenship, who has not been charged.

Hughart was fired from Massey on March 19, 2010 for failing a drug test, both of which occurred prior to the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. Massey auditors claimed that Hughart had hired his son, promoted him to an $89,000-a- year job and gave him a company truck to drive.

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