The Latest: Ex-coal CEO says he's not guilty of any crime

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2016 12:42 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The Latest on sentencing for former coal executive Don Blankenship, who was convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards in a deadly mine explosion in 2010 (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

A former coal executive sentenced to a year in prison in connection to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades says he is not guilty of any crime.

Following his sentencing Wednesday, ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship said that the 29 men who died in the 2010 explosion "were great guys, great coal miners."

But he added that, "It is important to everyone that you know that I'm not guilty of a crime."

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger handed down the sentence and a $250,000 fine. She told Blankenship that "we should be able to tout you as a West Virginia success story. ... Instead ... we are here as a result of your part in a dangerous conspiracy."

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12:25 p.m.

Former coal executive Don Blankenship has been sentenced to one year in prison and fined $250,000 for conspiracy to violate mine safety standards in the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger sentenced the ex-Massey Energy CEO on Wednesday.

Blankenship was convicted Dec. 3 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine. The West Virginia coal mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

He was acquitted of felonies that could have stretched his sentence to 30 years. His attorneys had argued for probation and after the sentence, they promised to appeal.

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9:15 a.m.

Former coal executive Don Blankenship is scheduled to be sentenced for a conviction connected to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades.

The ex-Massey Energy CEO is due in court Wednesday for sentencing.

Blankenship was convicted Dec. 3 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine. The southern West Virginia coal mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

Prosecutors are advocating for the maximum penalties of a year in prison and a $250,000 fine. Blankenship's defense says he shouldn't receive more than probation and a fine.

Defense attorneys also are pushing to keep Blankenship out of prison until he receives a decision on the appeal his attorneys have promised. Prosecutors oppose the motion.