US court rejects coal CEO Blankenship bid to remain free during appeal

West Virginia coal baron Don Blankenship will start a one-year prison sentence on Thursday after being convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety rules in the lead-up to a massive explosion in one of the mines run by the company he led, Massey Energy. (Image from archives)

A US judge rejected Thursday a bid by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, the man once known as West Virginia’s “King of Coal”, to remain free while the court considers an appeal of his conviction related to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades.

He will start a one-year prison sentence on Thursday after being convicted last month in relation to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades.

Blankenship’s lawyers filed an emergency motion Tuesday in hopes of convincing the court to allow their client to remain a free man on $1 million bail while the court considers his appeal, ABC News reports.

Federal prosecutors said that the motion was “redundant” because Blankenship’s team had already asked the appeals court to spare him from serving time during the appeals process.

Though he was tried in West Virginia, Blankenship is expected to serve his time in California starting today, after being convicted last month of conspiring to wilfully violate mine safety standards at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

He was sentenced April 6 to a year in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine, becoming the first such a high-ranking corporate executive who has been found guilty of a workplace safety crime.

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