Former Massey exec outs CEO during plea hearing - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Former Massey exec outs CEO during plea hearing

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Organizers prepare for the 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley

    Organizers prepare for the 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:34 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:34:46 GMT
    The 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley is quickly approaching. It's a time for local eateries to cook up their best batch of the hearty meal. The competition involves more than 40 participants, three stages of entertainment, vendors, ride and slide activities for kids and more.
    The 24th annual Chili Night in Uptown Beckley is quickly approaching. It's a time for local eateries to cook up their best batch of the hearty meal. The competition involves more than 40 participants, three stages of entertainment, vendors, ride and slide activities for kids and more.
  • Is the iCloud secure? After a celebrity leak, What You can do to Make sure your Information is Safe

    Is the iCloud secure? After a celebrity leak, What You can do to Make sure your Information is Safe

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:33:47 GMT
    We wanted to know just what you can do to make sure your information isn't leaked. Although there's many benefits to "cloud" services, authorities now caution against keeping your private information online.
    We wanted to know just what you can do to make sure your information isn't leaked. Although there's many benefits to "cloud" services, authorities now caution against keeping your private information online.
  • Soon all police will be wearing body cameras

    Soon all police will be wearing body cameras

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:37:42 GMT
    A nationwide debate is taking place after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri .Ferguson cops were given body cameras by two companies after allegations have been made against protesters, who are outraged by the shooting.Soon police around the country could be wearing body cameras.
    A nationwide debate is taking place after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri .Ferguson cops were given body cameras by two companies after allegations have been made against protesters, who are outraged by the shooting.Soon police around the country could be wearing body cameras.

A former Massey Energy executive pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday, Feb. 28 to charges in connection with the disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine in April 2010 that killed 29 coal miners.

David Hughart,53, of Crab Orchard, who was president of Massey's Green Valley Resource Group, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of conspiracy to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and a misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws.

Reports said that Hughart was accused of working with unnamed co-conspirators to ensure miner at White Buck Coal Co. and other Massey-owned operations got advance warning about surprise federal inspections.

Under oath Hughart said, " I condoned, knew it was happening and let it go on."

In fact, Hughart told Judge Irene Berger that the violations had been going on for more than 10 years.  When questioned by Judge Berger, Hughart also said under oath that blame went even higher.  Judge Berger asked specifically who knew, and Hughart responded that it went all the way to Massey's CEO.

While Hughart did not give a specific name, the CEO of Massey Energy at the time of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine was Don Blankenship.

59News spoke with Hughart's son Jonathan after the plea hearing.  He offered sympathy for the families those lost in the UBB disaster, but was quick to point out that his father was never at the mine.

"For the record, my father never did set foot on the property of UBB.  He's never been on that property, he's never been underground there," said Jonathan Hughart.

Hughart is the highest ranking official to date to be charged in the ongoing federal investigation which was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., which acquired Massey's operations in a June 2011 merger, is continuing to cooperate with the investigation.

A sentencing date for David Hughart was set for June 25 at 1:30 p.m. in front of Judge Berger. He faces up to six years in prison and a $350,000 fine.

"Mine safety and health laws are not optional," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. "This prosecution reiterates the message that mine safety violations are very serious crimes."

Hughart is believed to be the highest-ranking mine official ever convicted of conspiracy to impede MSHA or conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards.