Former Massey Energy Division President Pleads Guilty

David Hughart, 53, pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to conspiring to violate mine health and safety laws.

A Massey Energy Company executive, David Hughart, 53, of Crab Orchard, W.Va., pleaded guilty Feb. 28 to conspiring to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration and also conspiring to violate mine health and safety laws. Hughart pleaded guilty to the charges in a U.S. district court in Beckley, W.Va., U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin announced. Hughart is the former president of Massey's Green Valley Resource Group and is the highest-ranking official charged thus far in the ongoing federal investigation, Goodwin said.

"Mine safety and health laws are not optional," he said. "This prosecution reiterates the message that mine safety violations are very serious crimes."

Hughart admitted he and others at Massey conspired to violate health and safety laws and concealed the violations by warning mining operations when MSHA inspectors were arriving to conduct inspections. According to Goodwin, Hughart is believed to be the highest-ranking mine official ever convicted of conspiracy to impede MSHA or conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI, the Department of Labor Office of Inspector General, and the IRS Criminal Investigation Division. Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., which acquired Massey Energy’s operations in a June 2011 merger, is continuing to cooperate with the investigation, according to Goodwin’s news release, which said Hughart faces up to six years in prison and a $350,000 fine when he is sentenced June 25, 2013, by U.S, District Judge Irene C. Berger.

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