CHARLESTON – Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.
Blankenship was sentenced April 6 in federal court. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger handed down the maximum sentence of one year in prison for the misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County. An explosion there on April 5, 2010, killed 29 miners.
Blankenship also will spend a year on supervised release after his time in prison. Blankenship's attorney says he plans to file an appeal.
On April 4, Berger ruled Blankenship doesn't have to pay Alpha Natural Resources $28 million in restitution for legal fees it paid at least seven former Massey employees, investigative expenses and fines in relation to the 2010 Upper Big Branch explosion in Raleigh County that killed 29 miners.
Berger said Alpha incurred its financial hardships more than a year after Blankenship's indictment and after Alpha purchased Massey Energy in 2011. Alpha also voluntarily entered a non-prosecution agreement with the government.
Alpha filed its motion for relief on March 7, and Blankenship’s attorneys filed a memorandum opposing the relief on the same day.
“This is an unprecedented attempt to add draconian penalties to an offense that Congress has classified as a misdemeanor, and Alpha has no right to recover any of these expenditures from Mr. Blankenship as restitution,” the defendant’s memorandum states.
Blankenship's trial lasted two months, and a federal jury convicted him on Dec. 3.