Curtis Tate Published

Federal Judge Blocks Seizure Of Justice Coal Company Helicopter

Gov. Jim Justice sitting at his desk wearing a green tie in honor of St. Patrick’s Day as he signs into law the state’s budget bill HB 2024 on Friday, March 17, 2023.
Gov. Jim Justice on March 17, 2023.
WV Governor's Office

A federal judge in Virginia has blocked the seizure of a helicopter from a coal company owned by Gov. Jim Justice. 

Judge James P. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granted a stay on Thursday sought by the coal company, Bluestone Resources, and 1st Source Bank of South Bend, Indiana, one of Bluestone’s creditors.

Another Bluestone creditor, Caroleng Investments of the British Virgin Islands, had sought to take possession of the helicopter to settle part of a $13 million debt owed by Bluestone.

Last week, the court ordered the U.S. Marshals to seize the helicopter, which has an estimated value of $1.2 million, according to a Wednesday filing by 1st Source.

The helicopter was housed in Roanoke, Virginia, until late last week, when it was moved to Burlington, North Carolina, according to publicly available flight data.

Caroleng accused Bluestone of hiding the helicopter to avoid paying what it owes.

Bluestone said 1st Source was first in line to get paid in the event the helicopter was sold.

Caroleng said Bluestone couldn’t intervene on behalf of 1st Source, but the bank joined Bluestone’s motion for a stay on Wednesday to protect its interest in the helicopter.

In his order Thursday, Jones froze any transfer of the helicopter or any effort to conceal its location until the court could resolve the dispute.

Jones has scheduled a hearing in the case on Nov. 16 in Abingdon, Virginia.