Mercer man pleads guilty to federal mine safety violation - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Mercer man pleads guilty to federal mine safety violation

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Craig Belcher, 36, of Bluefield, pleaded guilty to falsifying mandatory mine safety reports while he was employed at several West Virginia mining operations.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced July 29 Belcher pleaded guilty to providing a false statement, representation and certification in a Mine Safety and Health Administration document.

Belcher faces as many as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Dec. 2 by Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.

Belcher was hired in January 2009 to work as an underground mine foreman at Spartan Mining Company's Road Fork No. 51 mine in Wyoming County. Belcher was hired in February 2009 to perform mine foreman duties at Frasure Creek's Mine No. 15 in Fayette County.

Belcher also performed similar foreman duties in May 2009 at Pay Car's Mine No. 58 in McDowell County, and in July 2010 at Double Bonus's Mine No. 65 in Wyoming County.

From Jan. 27, 2009-July 13, 2010, Belcher signed pre-shift and on-shift reports which indicated that he had properly examined particular sections at each mine, according to information from Goodwin's office. Belcher was not certified as a foreman when he completed those mine reports, and he also falsified information on pre-shift and on-shift reports by using foreman's numbers that did not belong to him.

MSHA conducted the investigation into Belcher, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Blaire Malkin is in charge of the prosecution.