LONDON, KY. — Mine officials operating an underground Harlan County coal mine were indicted today by a London grand jury for subjecting miners to hazardous working conditions by violating safety standards.
Mine operator Jefferson Davis, 53, of Harlan, Ky., mine superintendent Joseph Miniard, 45, of Smith, Ky., and mine foreman Bryant Massingale, 52, of Cawood, Ky., were indicted today along with their company Manalapan Mining Company, Inc.
According to the indictment, in June of 2011 the mining officials violated mine safety laws in place to protect miners from possible roof falls and unsafe electrical cables.The mining officials allegedly allowed miners to work under an unsupportive roof and operate potentially dangerous electrical machinery that needed to be fixed.
Additionally, the mine company allegedly did not follow its approved roof control plan which had been approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). In order to protect miners from dangerous roof conditions, mining companies are required by law to submit a roof control plan to MSHA officials for approval and to adhere to the approved plan.
Massingale and Miniard were individually indicted for intentionally failing to document hazardous conditions within the mine on numerous occasions in June of 2011. Miniard approved Preshift inspection reports completed by Massingale, knowing that Massingale had purposely failed to report hazardous conditions. As mine foreman, Massingale was obligated by law to inspect the working sections of the mine and the equipment before allowing miners to enter the mine and work their shift.
Kerry B. Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky and Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration jointly announced the indictment today.
The investigation was conducted by MSHA. The U.S. Attorney’s Office was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick H. Molloy.
A date for the defendants to appear in Federal court has not yet been set. If convicted each defendants face a maximum fine of $250,000 or a up to one year in prison. However, any sentence imposed by the court following a conviction would come after the court considered the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of sentences.
An indictment is an accusation only and the defendant is innocent until proven guilty.