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Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:19 AM

29 miners killed in 2010; Massey CEO heads to trial for lying and conspiracy

Once he was considered untouchable, but next week former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is scheduled to go on trial on conspiracy to violate mine safety standards and conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials charges. Blankenship denies the charges.

Those charges stem from an investigation that followed the Upper Big Branch Disaster that killed 29 men in 2010. It’s a trial that folks in the coalfields never thought would happen.

In this episode, we take a look back at how we got here and talk about the significance of this case. You can also hear part of a special investigative series of reports about outlaw coal mining companies, that keep operating despite injuries, violations and millions of dollars in fines....


The politics of coal in West (by God) Virginia.

Before last year’s elections, before he was indicted, one year before he would go to trial, West Virginia Democrats warned that Don Blankenship was trying to buy the state.

“Why are out-of-state billionaires trying to buy West Virginia?” one flier from the state party blared, next to pictures of Blankenship and the Koch brothers. “Only you can stop them.”

For Blankenship, at least, there’s no proof that allegation was true, and as a political strategy, it certainly didn’t work.

There is no record of Blankenship making any political donations in West Virginia in 2014, and Republicans made unprecedented gains — winning the statehouse for the first time in eight decades and winning every available congressional seat.

But those gains were engineered, in part, by Blankenship’s longtime personal aides and political operatives, who continue to hold outsize influence in state Republican politics....

Here is a timeline of major events in the Upper Big Branch disaster:
—April 5, 2010: A massive explosion ripped through the underground corridors at the Upper Big Branch mine, killing 29 men in the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.

—April 25, 2010: In a eulogy, a somber President Barack Obama told the families of the workers that the nation would honor their memories by improving safety in the mines.

—May 14, 2010: Federal prosecutors announce criminal investigation.

—Dec. 3, 2010: Don Blankenship, CEO of Upper Big Branch owner Massey Energy, announces his retirement.

—Jan. 29, 2011: Massey Energy agrees to be taken over by Alpha Natural Resources in a $7.1 billion deal.

—Sept. 22, 2011: Former Massey employee Thomas Harrah is sentenced to 10 months in prison for faking a foreman's license and lying to federal authorities.

—Dec. 6, 2011: In the biggest settlement ever reached in a U.S. mining disaster, Alpha Natural Resources agrees to pay $210 million to compensate grieving families, bankroll cutting-edge safety improvements and pay for years of violations by Massey Energy. Under the deal with federal prosecutors, Alpha is not criminally charged.

—Feb. 29, 2012: Former mine security chief Hughie Elbert Stover is sentenced to three years for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy security-related documents.

—Jan. 17, 2013: Former Upper Big Branch superintendent Gary May is sentenced to one year and nine months in prison on charges he defrauded the government through his actions at the mine, including disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.

—Sept. 10, 2013: Former Massey executive David Hughart is sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for conspiring in an illegal scheme to warn miners and other subsidiaries of surprise safety inspections. Hughart implicated Blankenship in the conspiracy during his plea hearing.

—Nov. 13, 2014: Federal prosecutors announce an indictment against Blankenship.

—Oct. 1: Blankenship's trial is scheduled to begin.


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Reply 29 miners killed in 2010; Massey CEO heads to trial for lying and conspiracy (Original post)
kristopher Sep 2015 OP
RussBLib Sep 2015 #1

Response to kristopher (Original post)

Wed Sep 30, 2015, 10:37 AM

1. finally

We sorely need some top CEO's to be sent to jail, otherwise we have an obvious system of justice for regular folks, and a special system for business "leaders".

Other countries regularly send top brass to jail. WTF is our problem? Do we actually revere business leaders that much?

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