BECKLEY – The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s emergency motion to stay his prison sentence until after his conviction is appealed.
The court turned down Blankenship’s motion this morning, which means he will have to surrender himself to a federal prison in California sometime today.
The three-judge panel issued an order denying the motion, stating that they reviewed the submissions relative to the motion for release pending appeal and denied it.
The order was entered on behalf of Judge Roger Gregory and with concurrence of Judges James Wynn and Andre Davis.
Blankenship’s legal team had asked that he be allowed to continue his release on bail, arguing that their appeal of his conviction raises significant issues and that absent relief from the appeals court, he could end up serving much of his one-year sentence before the 4th Circuit makes a decision.
Prosecutors opposed that motion, arguing that allowing Blankenship to remain free “would upend the statutory presumption favoring immediate service of sentence.”
The motion was filed two days before the deadline that Blankenship has to surrender himself to federal authorities.
The motion states that in view of Blankenship’s prison surrender date, a stay is appropriate.
“Unless the court will resolve the pending motion for release tomorrow, an administrative stay is needed to provide the court with time to rule on the motion and, if the court grants the motion, to preserve the court’s ability to provide full relief,” the May 10 motion stated.
On April 6, District Judge Irene Berger sentenced Blankenship to serve one year in prison and pay $250,000 in fines. He was convicted by a federal jury of conspiring to violate mine safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in an explosion in 2010.
Blankenship was also ordered to spend one year on supervised release after his time in prison.
His federal trial lasted two months and a federal jury convicted him on Dec. 3.