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Former Massey Security Chief Sentenced in Upper Big Branch Case

Upper Big Branch memorial Photo by Rana X/Flickr

The former director of security at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (W.Va.) mine was sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying to federal agents and destroying documents sought by investigators looking into the deadly blast that killed 29 in 2010.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin had sought a 25-year sentence for Hughie Elbert Stover but said after the sentencing:

Three years for a man who is 60 years old is a long time. We wanted to send a very clear message and we have done that.

Ken Ward of The Charleston Gazette writes that the charges against Stover

focused on his role in a Massey practice of warning workers underground of impending safety inspections, a routine occurrence that federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigators now say played a major role in the disaster.

Last week, Gary May, former superintendent at the Upper Big Branch mine, was charged with conspiracy to violate federal mining safety laws. He is the third former Massey official to face criminal charges related the explosion.

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