Retrial Weighed for Coal Boss Whose Bonuses Fed Campaigns

Feb 7, 2018

The Justice Department is weighing whether to retry a West Virginia coal boss on charges of campaign finance fraud. A mistrial was declared Friday after the jury spent more than five hours deliberating the fate of 58-year-old James Lewis Laurita, of Morgantown. 

Laurita is accused of organizing a campaign finance scheme to give coal industry executives access to members of Congress.

Federal prosecutors said Laurita gave some executives bonuses at Mepco LLC. He’s accused of directing executives to contribute that money to candidate campaign finance committees.

Prosecutors said the scheme was done in a way that could have bypassed annual donation limits without the Federal Election Commission noticing. Laurita's defense said the government couldn't prove Laurita willfully violated the law.

U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says the case is being evaluated.