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Former Massey Subsidiary President To Plead Guilty to Conspiracy Charges

Posted by Ellen Smith on November 28, 2012

David Hugart, 53, former president of Massey Energy’s White Buck Coal Co., was charged today in a two-count criminal information with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

He has agreed to plead guilty and is cooperating with the investigation. He will plead guilt to conspiring to impede the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and conspiring to violate mine health and safety laws.

The criminal investigation of the U.S. Attorney’s office out of Charleston, W.Va., has been looking into practices of Massey Energy mines before the April 2010 mine disaster that killed 29 miners at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Hugart was president of Massey’s smaller division, and oversaw three mines: the Grassy Creek No. 1 Mine, Hominy Creek Mine and briefly, the Pocahontas Mine.

The criminal information claims that MSHA regulations were routinely violated at the White Buck Mines and at other coal mines owned by Massey, in part because of a belief that consistently following those laws would decrease coal production.

Hugart was charged with giving advanced notice of inspections so that conditions in the mines could be concealed or covered up before inspectors could get into the mines and issue citations. The information claims he also conspired with other directors, officers and agents of the Massey corporation.

Hughart is the highest-ranking official charged to date in an ongoing federal investigation of Massey.

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