Associated Press Published

Prosecutors Defend Conviction of Ex-Coal CEO on Appeal

Don Blankenship

Federal prosecutors say the only thing novel about ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s conviction was that it targeted a major company’s CEO, not low-ranking miners.

Prosecutors defended Blankenship’s conviction in a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals filing Monday.

Blankenship is appealing from prison.

He reported to a California prison May 12 to serve a one-year sentence for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch coal mine. The mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

A jury convicted him in December.

Blankenship’s attorneys previously contended that prosecutors had a “novel” theory that criminalized managerial budget decisions. Defense attorneys contended the jury pool was biased, the prosecution was politically motivated, and trial rulings were unfair.

Oral arguments will be Oct. 26 in Richmond, Virginia.