Associated Press Published

Guilty Plea Hearing Rescheduled for Top Exec. in W.Va. Spill


A guilty plea hearing has been rescheduled for the top executive charged in a chemical spill that contaminated West Virginia’s biggest drinking water supply.

A federal judge in Charleston on Tuesday rescheduled the hearing for ex-Freedom Industries President Gary Southern to Aug. 19. It originally had been set for Aug. 17.

Southern sought to change the date, although U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston’s order didn’t say why.

Southern faces up to 93 years in prison if convicted of federal pollution and bankruptcy fraud charges.

In January 2014, a Freedom Industries tank leak in Charleston spurred a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

Four other ex-Freedom officials and the company have pleaded guilty to federal pollution violations. Another former Freedom president, Dennis Farrell, has pleaded not guilty to pollution charges.