Members of a West Virginia jury on Thursday found former Massey Energy chief executive, Don Blankenship, guilty of conspiring to commit mine safety violations relating to a deadly 2010 coal mine explosion.
The 8-women and 4-men jury in Charleston were handed the case Tuesday afternoon after spending more than six weeks listening the 27 witnesses that gave testimony in court.
Blankenship, 65, was charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws at Upper Big Branch Mine, and then lying to investors and federal authorities after an explosion at the mine killed 29 miners.
He was found not guilty of making false statements to federal regulators and securities fraud and Blankenship now only faces up to one year in prison on the conspiracy charge which is a misdemeanor. He faced up to 30 years in prison if he was convicted on all charges. His attorney Bill Taylor told reporters he will appeal the Charleston Gazette reports.
The former mine boss denied any wrongdoing. His attorneys rested their case without calling a single witness arguing that prosecutors failed to meet the burden of proof required to convict Blankenship on any count.
Don Blankenship is a colorful character to say the least. Like the rest of us, only he knows the true scope of his deeds and misdeeds, and will in our Creator’s own good time be called to give a full accounting. It is also fair to say that little if any underground coal mining would occur if all rules and regulations were followed to the letter.
Mining is a dangerous business and those who go down into the earth know the risks, including the increased risk when mine officials don’t follow the rules. Nevertheless, those 29 miners, like the rest of us, had families to feed and bills to pay, grown men making grown up choices.
Both sides in this case threw everything but the kitchen sink advancing and defending their positions. The jury has spoken, the rest is up to God.
Twenty-nine miners died because of this guy’s cupidity? I’ve worked under hot-shots like this and your’e right “Restless Bloomers” he is colorful: yeh, blood red…
Strange – the conspiracy charge is the least serious to him and the toughest to prove. He posted no defence except cross examination.
Either this was malicious prosecution or incompetence in the prosecuting attorney’s office. I would love to know which!