• MSHA Update: Criminal Conspiracy Charged
  • March 1, 2012 | Author: Michael T. Heenan
  • Law Firm: Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. - Washington Office
  • An Information filed on February 22, 2012 in U.S. v. May states:

    “MAY, together with others known and unknown, unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed together with each other to defraud the United States and an agency thereof, to wit, to hamper, hinder, impede, and obstruct by trickery, deceit, and dishonest means, the lawful government functions of DOL and MSHA in the administration and enforcement of mine health and safety....”

    As to “Manner and Means” of the stated conspiracy, the information alleges:

    “...MAY, together with others known and unknown would and did give and authorize and cause to be given to persons at [Upper Big Branch Mine] advance notice of MSHA inspections, knowing and intending that the persons receiving this advance notice would conceal and cover up violations of mine health and safety laws that otherwise would result in citations and orders issued by MSHA.

    ...further...did falsify and authorize and cause falsification of examination record[s]....”

    Mine Superintendent Gary May is the second management person to be charged in connection with continuing federal investigations into the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in West Virginia on April 5, 2010. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin argued in a sentencing hearing in a federal district court in Charleston, West Virginia that Hughie Elbert Stover, former UBB Security Chief, should be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in connection with his convictions for lying to investigators and destroying documents at UBB. The U.S. Attorney has stated that the federal investigations are not concluded. There are indications that higher management representatives may be targets of the investigations.