Brittany Patterson Published

Court Orders U.S. Marshal to Collect $1 Million Owed by Justice-Controlled Companies

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice talks about his budget proposal during a stop on his Save Our State Tour on Thursday, March 3, 2017, at Fairmont State University.

A federal court has ordered the U.S. Marshal to collect more than $1 million owed by two coal companies controlled by the family of West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia issued the writ of execution Wednesday, giving the U.S. Marshal the go-ahead to tap into multiple bank accounts associated with two Justice family-controlled coal companies, Southern Coal Corporation and Kentucky Fuel Corporation.

Paper company WestRock CP LLC and Southern Coal Corp. have for years been fighting in court over a coal supply agreement for a paper mill in Florida. The parties had settled, but after making three payments, Southern Coal Corp. stopped. This year, a federal court awarded WestRock a settlement totaling just over $1 million.

When asked about the order at an event in Parkersburg Thursday, Justice said he had not been notified.

“I don’t know a thing in the world about it,” he said. “I really don’t.”

Reporting in 2016 by NPR, Ohio Valley ReSource and its partners found Justice’s companies owed about $15 million in overdue taxes and mine safety fees. Justice says taxes owed in West Virginia have been paid, but elsewhere officials are still seeking back taxes.