West Virginia Mine Superintendent Pleads Guilty To Fraud | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

West Virginia Mine Superintendent Pleads Guilty To Fraud

"The former superintendent of a southern West Virginia mine where an explosion killed 29 workers in April 2010 pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal fraud charge," The Associated Press reports. "Gary May of Bloomingrose, the highest-ranking Massey Energy official charged in connection with the blast, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Aug. 9."

As NPR's Howard Berkes reported for us earlier this week, May's guilty plea was expected. He had apparently been cooperating with prosecutors and testifying about other Massey managers' actions as part of a plea agreement.

Last month, as Howard reported, "federal prosecutors announced a criminal conspiracy charge against May ... [accusing him] of conspiring with others to 'hamper, hinder, impede, and obstruct the lawful enforcement ... of mine health and safety laws' at the mine."

In his reporting, Howard also wrote that:

"May was one of two top Massey managers at the mine and was responsible for day to day operations for portions of Upper Big Branch. He took on the superintendent's job five months before the explosion, which multiple investigations have blamed on numerous safety failures."

"The specific allegations against May included:

Warning miners underground with "code phrases" when federal regulators arrived for surprise safety inspections, leading to concealment of violations.

Falsifying "examination record books" at the mine, which identify safety problems, provide notice to federal inspectors and list needed fixes.

— Deliberately altering the air flow underground when federal safety inspectors arrived "in order to conceal and cover up the quantity of air that normally reached that area of the mine."

Disabling a malfunctioning methane monitor on a mining machine "allowing the continuous mining machine to be operated for several hours without a functioning methane monitor."

Massey Energy was purchased by Alpha Natural Resources last year.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Author Explores Armenian Genocide 'Obsession' And Turkish Denial

As a child, Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani was taught to see Turks as a bitter enemy. She wrote her new book, There Was and There Was Not, in an effort to understand that conflict.
NPR

Nutmeg Spice Has A Secret Story That Isn't So Nice

Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan in the 1600s.
WAMU 88.5

Special Prosecutors Should Handle Civilian Shootings By Police, Holmes Norton Says

Norton says mayors and governors could stem anger over civilian shootings by police by appointing special prosecutors to handle them.
NPR

Pyongyang Blames U.S. Amid Reports Of New Internet Outages

Pyongyang has accused President Obama of "reckless words and deeds" and said the U.S. is "playing hide and seek as children with runny noses would."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.