Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 7, 2014

Mercer man sentenced to 21 months in prison for falsifying MSHA documents

BLUEFIELD — A Mercer County man who falsified mandatory mine safety reports while employed at several West Virginia mining operations was sentenced Monday to 21 months in federal prison.

Craig Belcher, 37, of Bluefield, pleaded guilty in July 2013 to providing a false statement, representation and certification in a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) document, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin stated. Belcher’s sentence was handed down Monday by Senior United States District Court Judge David A. Faber in Bluefield.

In January 2009, Belcher was hired to work as an underground mine foreman at Spartan Mining Company’s Road Fork No. 51 mine located in Wyoming County. Belcher was hired in February 2009 to perform mine foreman duties at Frasure Creek’s Mine No. 15 located in Fayette County, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Belcher also performed similar foreman duties in May 2009 at Pay Car’s Mine No. 58 in McDowell County, and in July 2010 at Double Bonus’s Mine No. 65 in Wyoming County.

Between January 27, 2009 and July 13, 2010, Belcher signed pre-shift and on-shift reports, which indicated that he had properly examined particular sections at each mine. Belcher was not certified as a foreman when he completed the mine reports.  Belcher also falsified information on pre-shift and on-shift reports by using foreman’s numbers that did not belong to him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office release.  

The investigation was conducted by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Assistant United States Attorney Blaire Malkin handled the prosecution.   

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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