The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

March 13, 2013

Former mine boss now in prison

MORGANTOWN — A former superintendent at the West Virginia coal mine where 29 men died in 2010 is now behind bars at a minimum-security federal prison in Morgantown, U.S. Bureau of Prison records showed Tuesday.

Gary May was sentenced in January to 21 months in prison on a conspiracy charge for his actions at the former Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine.

May, 44, of Bloomingrose pleaded guilty last year to charges that he defrauded the federal government with actions that included disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.

May has cooperated with prosecutors in their continuing criminal investigation of the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 year and testified at the sentencing of former Massey security chief Hughie Stover.

Stover was sent to prison for three years for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents. It was one of the stiffest punishments ever handed down in a mine safety case, and he’s serving his time at a minimum-security prison near Ashland, Ky.

May had asked U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to sentence him to home confinement or a federal facility closer to his home. Morgantown is about a three-hour drive.

Still awaiting sentencing is David Hughart, head of another Massey subsidiary. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges, testifying last month about a widespread corporate practice of warning coal miners about surprise federal inspections between 2000 and 2010.

Hughart, former president of White Buck Coal Co., said the policy was set by the former chief executive. At the time, that was Don Blankenship. His attorney denies Blankenship did anything wrong.

Hughart faces up to six years in prison when sentenced June 25.

 

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