Upper Big Branch

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

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.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On Wednesday morning, a federal judge will decide whether former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will serve prison time or face a monetary fine after being convicted of a misdemeanor. 

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws in December, but one miner's family says even the prison time will not bring complete closure.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On April 5, 2010, Howard "Boone" Payne went to work at the Upper Big Branch mine just as he had for years. He and 28 other men made their way miles underground to the mine's long wall operation, spent hours mining coal, and prepared to wrap up their day when the unthinkable happened- an explosion that took all of their lives.

Six years later, Boone's sisters Shirley Whitt and Sherry Keeney Depoy say there is still a void left in their family that cannot be filled. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A judge has reduced ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's bond and dropped his travel restrictions after his conviction.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDervort in Beckley reduced Blankenship's $5 million bond to $1 million Monday.

AP Photo/Jeff Gentner

There’s been landmark news here in the coalfields.

After 10 days of deliberation, jurors have found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. Be sure to keep refreshing this post for the latest. For more, follow @wvpublicnews on Twitter. For more on the verdict, see this post. For other reactions from government and mining industry officials, click here.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors have begun deliberations in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam detail the closing arguments in the case with host Beth Vorhees in this special episode of the podcast recorded as a part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting's morning news show, West Virginia Morning.

Jeff Pierson

Lead defense attorney Bill Taylor said the government has provided no solid evidence to back its claim that former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship conspired to violate federal mine safety laws and lied about his company's safety records to investors and securities officials.

"Paper is what the government has brought you," Taylor said in the first half of his closing argument Tuesday morning. "No witnesses, no proof."

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As jurors begin to deliberate a verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, all eyes in West Virginia turn to Charleston.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Defense attorneys chose to rest their case Monday morning without calling a single witness to aid in their defense of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

In a special edition of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Scott Finn discusses the surprising turn of events with reporter Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam. 

AP Photo

A federal judge has granted Don Blankenship’s attorneys weekend access to recording devices that contain the tapes of phone conversations the former CEO made during his time at Massey Energy after arguing authentication issues Friday.

Blankenship’s team attempted to bring select portions of calls in as evidence under FBI Special Agent Jim Lafferty, a government witness who led the investigation into Massey after the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in 2010.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

After 31 days of presenting witness testimony and hundreds of pieces of evidence, the U.S. Attorney's Office was set to rest its case Thursday against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. That was, until a motion from the defense to allow them to use a government witness to bring in more evidence threw the prosecution, once again, off course. 

In this week's podcast, host Scott Finn discusses that motion with West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hissam as well as the government's arguments surrounding a 2010 Massey Securities Exchange Commission filing and defense motions for acquittal.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. Attorney's Office has called its final witness in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. FBI Special Agent Jim Lafferty took the stand Tuesday morning. 

The government guided Lafferty through a number of documents he testified he'd reviewed during the course of his investigation, including a number of daily violation reports, filings with the federal Securities Exchange Commission and examination books kept by miners at the Upper Big Branch mine. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The sixth full week of the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been almost exclusively focused on Bill Ross, a key witness for the prosecution.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors heard emotional testimony from former Massey Energy safety official Bill Ross who broke down on the stand Wednesday morning as he discussed his 2009 recommendations to improve safety at the mining company.

Ross began his second day of testimony Wednesday in the trial of ex-Massey CEO Don Blankenship.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A 32-year Mine Safety and Health Administration official turned Massey Energy mine planning and safety specialist testified the company had a reputation of defiance when it came to following mine safety regulations. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A federal judge has denied a motion made by defense attorneys Friday to again question a government witness in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Blankenship's lead attorney, Bill Taylor, made the motion to re-cross examine former Performance Coal President and Upper Big Branch mine operator Chris Blanchard after he said extensive new evidence was entered by the prosecution during his redirect. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The prosecution wrapped their redirect examination of former Performance Coal President and Upper Big Branch mine operator Chris Blanchard late Friday afternoon, but the unconventional witness may not be done on the stand just yet. Defense attorneys Friday moved to “take another crack” at Blanchard.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After a week on the stand and nearly five days of cross examination by the defense, prosecutors are attempting to save their case set off track by former Performance Coal President Chris Blanchard. In this week's episode of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Dave Mistich discusses Blanchard's testimony with West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam. 

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