Blankenship on Trial

Blankenship Trial
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are seeking to erase his misdemeanor conviction related to the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades. A former lead prosecutor called it a desperate act.

A motion filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston claims federal prosecutors withheld information that would have assisted in Blankenship's defense at his lengthy 2015 trial. It said the government produced reports and other information after the trial's completion.

AP Photo

Convicted former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship claims documents that would have assisted his defense weren't made available to his attorneys before his trial and he's asking a federal court to vacate his misdemeanor conviction.

Blankenship made the claim in a news release through his U.S. Senate campaign to announce a planned motion to vacate the conviction. No motion was listed on a federal court website Tuesday night.

A federal appeals court has refused to rehear the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the order Friday.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was wrongly convicted and sent to prison because jury instructions made it too easy to conclude that he willfully violated safety rules at a West Virginia coal mine, his attorneys argued Wednesday.

Blankenship, 66, ran the coal company that owned West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine, where a 2010 explosion killed 29 men. He's currently serving a one-year sentence after being convicted of misdemeanor conspiracy for what prosecutors call a series of willful safety violations before the blast.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are hoping to convince an appeals court their client was wrongly sent to prison.

Blankenship ran the coal company that owned West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine, where a 2010 explosion killed 29 men. He's currently serving a one-year sentence after being convicted of conspiracy for what prosecutors call a series of willful safety violations at the company.

Don Blankenship
Chris Tilley / AP Photo

Federal prosecutors say the only thing novel about ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's conviction was that it targeted a major company's CEO, not low-ranking miners.

Prosecutors defended Blankenship's conviction in a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals filing Monday.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Oral arguments are set in federal court for October in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's appeal of his conviction related to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday scheduled oral arguments for Oct. 26.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Lawyers for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are arguing that his conviction related to the deadliest U.S. mine explosion in four decades should be reversed, saying the government's prosecution theory and proof fell short.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Blankenship's legal team filed a 94-page opening brief Monday with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The brief urges "close appellate scrutiny" of Blankenship's conviction and complains that the jury pool was biased against him, the prosecution was politically motivated and the trial controlled by rulings unfair to the defense.

Don Blankenship
Chris Tilley / AP Photo

Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, is scheduled to report to prison Thursday after being convicted of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch coal mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

A federal court has denied an emergency motion filed by attorneys for ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship requesting that he remain free while he appeals his conviction.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Attorneys for former coal executive Don Blankenship want to delay his entry into prison this week.

In an emergency motion in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Blankenship's attorneys wrote that he's slated to head to prison Thursday in California. But the court has not ruled on whether the former Massey Energy CEO should stay free until his larger appeal is decided.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Prosecutors are urging a federal appeals court not to allow former coal company executive Don Blankenship to remain free while the court considers an appeal.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that government lawyers say allowing the ex-Massey Energy CEO to continue his $1 million bail would be contrary to federal law. They say the law allows appeals to delay jail sentences only in "exceptional circumstances." Blankenship is scheduled to report to prison May 12.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Prosecutors say former coal company executive Don Blankenship has to head to prison on May 12, pending an appeal.

Prosecutors mentioned the ex-Massey Energy CEO's date to surrender to federal custody in a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals filing on Wednesday.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A former coal company executive is asking an appeals court if he can remain free while appealing a case that dealt him a prison sentence.

Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on Tuesday asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let him remain free on $1 million bond, pending appeal. Otherwise, Blankenship's attorneys say he may serve much, or all, of his one-year sentence before a larger appellate decision is reached.

Don Blankenship
Chris Tilley / AP Photo

While he appeals a decision that served him a one-year prison sentence, former coal company executive Don Blankenship has paid his $250,000 fine.

According to a U.S. District Court filing, the wealthy ex-Massey Energy CEO paid the fine in Charleston on Friday, plus a $25 court fee.

Blankenship was sentenced Wednesday to the maximum prison time and fine for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Former coal company chief Don Blankenship is appealing a case that resulted in a one-year prison sentence.

In U.S. District Court in Beckley on Thursday, the ex-Massey Energy CEO filed his notice of appeal to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Blankenship
Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship received the maximum sentence for his misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. His sentence- one year in prison and a $250,000 fine- was the maximum that could be order by a federal judge.

In this episode of Blankenship on Trial, host Scott Finn discuss what it was like both inside and outside the courtroom Wednesday with Ashton Marra, West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Assistant News Director, and Mike Hissam, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and partner at the Charleston law firm Bailey & Glasser.

Don Blankenship
Tyler Evert / AP Photo

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been sentenced to the maximum one year in prison and another year of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy at the company to skirt mine safety standards. Judge Irene Berger also imposed a maximum $250,000 fine, which is due immediately.

Blankenship was convicted in December of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws--a misdemeanor. The charge stemmed from an investigation into the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal that killed 29 men.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A judge has ruled that an ex-energy company CEO does not have to pay $28 million in restitution related to a mine explosion in 2010 that killed 29 men.

In her order issued Monday, Judge Irene Berger said ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship doesn't have to pay Alpha Natural Resources for legal fees paid for former Massey employees, cooperation with investigators and fines.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ninety-four people are seeking restitution from former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship as he prepares for sentencing on Wednesday.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Blankenship's defense team filed a motion late Friday asking the federal court judge to deny the claims. The motion says the claims seek money that the restitution statute does not authorize.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Prosecutors want a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for convicted ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who ran a West Virginia coal mine that was the site of a deadly explosion.

In a sentencing memorandum in federal court Monday, prosecutors said a shorter sentence could only be interpreted as declaring that mine safety laws aren't to be taken seriously.

Jeff Pierson

Two artists that were featured on Inside Appalachia recently had their work recognized- and we think that's worth celebrating. So this week we're revisiting one of our favorite episodes from earlier this year- Inside Appalachia Road Trip: Art and Murals Across Appalachia's Backroads.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal prosecutors say they oppose a request for a delay in the sentencing of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship following his mine safety conspiracy conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby said in a court filing on Wednesday that the sentencing of Blankenship should not be delayed.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are asking a federal judge to either delay his April sentencing or put off deciding the amount of a federal fine. 

In December, Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws linked to a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 men.  Blankenship could face up to a year in prison for the charge. 

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is opposing a prosecution push to make him pay $28 million in restitution to a coal company.

In a Beckley federal court filing Monday, Blankenship's attorneys said he shouldn't have to pay Alpha Natural Resources for legal fees, investigative expenses and fines.

Molly Must/ Traveling 219

This week for Inside Appalachia, we wanted to go on a kind of road trip and meet people who are making community art across Appalachia. 

Jeff Pierson

Here in central Appalachia, where coal reigns supreme, many people said the trial of Don Blankenship was something they had never imagined.

Never before has a top American coal executive been convicted of a crime related to the deaths of miners.

Cameras aren’t allowed in federal court for criminal trials. Two local artists, Rob Cleland and Jeff Pierson, were hired by the media to capture the trial.

What do Don Blankenship, heroin, and pepperoni rolls have in common? They’re all on our highly-unscientific list of top stories for 2015.

Finding Meaning in the Blankenship Verdict

Dec 7, 2015
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra talks with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin about his reaction to the verdict in the federal mine safety case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.  Also, Jessica Lilly talks with Tony Oppegard, an attorney representing miners for his take on what the verdicts means for coal miners. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Some 24 hours after a verdict was handed down in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he is not disappointed in the outcome. In fact, he's calling the conviction on one misdemeanor count a victory.

After the announcement of the final verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, jurors were escorted from the courthouse through a backdoor. A few spoke with members of the media about their decision and what they experienced during the 10 days of deliberations.

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