Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 2, 2013

Mercer County man charged with falsely conducting pre-shift mine examinations

By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

KIMBALL — A Mercer County man who was hired by operators of four southern West Virginia coal mines to conduct pre-shift inspections in Mine Safety and Health Administration documents, was named in a four-count federal indictment that was returned late Tuesday by a federal grand jury meeting in Charleston.

The indictment alleges that Craig Belcher, 36, of Bluefield, provided false statements representing that he was certified to conduct MSHA pre-shift examinations at four regional coal mines including Pay Car’s Mine No. 58 near Kimball, Spartan Mining Company’s Road Fork No. 51, and Double Bonus’s Old Mains Section of Mine No. 65, both near Pineville, and at the 001 Section of Frasure Creek’s Mine No. 15 near Page.

The allegations in the indictment state that Belcher “knowingly made a false statement” on Jan. 27, 2009, by signing a pre-shift report and entering his “foreman’s certificate number when, in fact ... he was not certified to make such an examination.”

Count two alleges the same charge on Feb. 28, 2009, at the 001 Section of Mine No. 15 in Page. Count three alleges the same charge on May 27, 2009 at the 1st Left Section of Mine No. 58 in Kimball. Count four alleges that Belcher committed the same offenses as those alleged in the previous three counts on July 13, 2010, at the Old Mains Section of Mine No. 65.

Federal authorities issued a summons today asking Belcher to attend his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort at 2:30 p.m., on May 28, in Bluefield. Assistant U.S. Attorney Blaire Malkin is representing the government in the case.