Associated Press Published

Freedom Industries Execs Contend Conflict of Interest


A federal judge is drafting a questionnaire to decide whether prosecutors who live in Charleston have a conflict of interest in the criminal case over the massive chemical spill last year.

In Charleston federal court today, Judge Thomas Johnston said he is finalizing the 19-question survey. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and two of his colleagues who reside in the area affected by the spill will fill them out.
Former Freedom officials Gary Southern and Dennis Farrell have pleaded not guilty to pollution charges. Southern also pleaded not guilty to fraud related to Freedom’s bankruptcy case.  
Southern and Farrell contend Goodwin’s office should be recused because some of its members were impacted by the spill of a coal cleaning chemical in the Elk River.  About 300,000
residents in nine counties were banned from using tap water for days.  
Their trials are slated for Oct. 6.