Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Latest Updates

September 6, 2013

Former Massey exec in trouble before sentencing

CHARLESTON — A former Massey Energy executive cooperating in the investigation of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster and awaiting sentencing for conspiracy has been arrested on drug charges.

David C. Hughart now faces a bond-revocation hearing with a federal magistrate in Beckley shortly before his sentencing hearing Tuesday with U.S. District Judge Irene Berger.

Court documents show a warrant for his arrest was issued Thursday after probation officer Amy Berry-Richmond informed the court that Hughart had been caught in Beckley on Aug. 30 and charged with possession of the painkiller oxycodone and the anti-anxiety drug alprazolam. She said he lacked a prescription for either.

The Charleston Gazette first reported the arrest Friday.

Hughart admitted conspiring with others to give miners at Massey subsidiary White Buck Coal Co. illegal advance warning about surprise inspections before he was fired in March 2010. Court documents show he’d failed a random drug test.

Hughart never worked at Upper Big Branch, where 29 miners died in an April 2010 explosion, but he implicated former Massey CEO Don Blankenship in the advance-warning scheme at his February plea hearing.

Massey is now owned by Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, and Blankenship has denied any wrongdoing.

Hughart faces up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $350,000 on the conspiracy charge.

Upper Big Branch was the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years.

Four investigations found that worn and broken cutting equipment created a spark that ignited accumulations of coal dust and methane gas. Broken and clogged water sprayers allowed what should have been a minor flare-up to become an inferno. 

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the root cause was Massey’s “systematic, intentional and aggressive efforts” to conceal life-threatening problems. Managers even maintained two sets of pre-shift inspection books — an accurate one for themselves, and a sanitized one for regulators. 

Former superintendent Gary May and security chief Hughie Elbert Stover are behind bars for their actions at the mine.     

1
Text Only
Latest Updates
  • suspect john smith Suspect arrested, faces felony charges following shooting incident

    A Mercer County man was arrested and arraigned on felony charges Thursday after a domestic altercation led to a shooting incident on Methodist Hill Road.
    Mercer County 911 dispatched first responders to the scene approximately 9:50 a.m. Deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department were the first to arrive.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thousands rally for coal

    The echo of people chanting, “Hey, hey, EPA, don’t take our jobs away” could be heard in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Thursday.
    The voices came from about 5,000 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) members and their families along with other unions such as the Boilermakers Union and the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International (IBEW) marching through the streets.

    August 1, 2014

  • George Allan Truhlar.png McDowell man in custody on sex crime charges

     A McDowell County man is behind bars after allegedly exchanging pornographic images with teenage girls and attempting to set up encounters with them, authorities said Thursday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Woman on probation for previous drug charges arraigned on new counts

     A Mercer County woman who was sentenced on a drug distribution conviction more than 2 years ago, was arraigned on Thursday on charges contained in a new 4-count federal indictment alleging that she distributed drugs.

    August 1, 2014

  • West Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    Security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for Ebola patients and others exposed to the disease as the death toll from the worst recorded outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa.
    U.S. health officials urged Americans not to travel to the three countries hit by the medical crisis:  Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 31, 2014

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comiskey.jpg Sterling not the only bad owner

    As the Donald Sterling era in with the Los Angeles Clippers looks to be winding down, many are calling him the worst owner in sports history. From being cheap with the players to his most recent racist comments, it's hard to argue against.
    Yet, there are a few owners of athletic teams who can give Sterling a run for title of worst in history.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo