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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA

William J. Ihlenfeld, II
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY


1125 Chapline Street, Federal Building, Suite 3000 ● Wheeling, WV 26003
(304) 234-0100 ● Contact: Fawn E. Thomas, Public Affairs Specialist

June 22, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Former Mine Employees Sentenced for
Making False Statements on MSHA Documents

ELKINS, WEST VIRGINIA — Two former mine employees were sentenced on June 21, 2011, in United States District Court in Elkins by Chief Judge John Preston Bailey.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:

LUKE W. PUGH, age 49, of Jane Lew, West Virginia, a former employee of Carter Roag Coal Company, Inc., at the Pleasant Hill Mine in Randolph County, West Virginia, was sentenced to 12 months and one day imprisonment, to be followed by three years supervised release. PUGH entered a plea of guilty on March 8, 2011, to one count of an Indictment charging him with making false statements, representations, and certifications in MSHA documents. As part of the plea, PUGH stipulated that on 387 occasions from June 18, 2007, to April 28, 2009, he knowingly and falsely stated and certified in a report that he was certified by the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Education to conduct Preshift and/or Onshift safety examinations, when in fact he knew that he was not and has never been so certified. PUGH is currently free on bond and will self-report to a designated federal institution.

CHAD J. FERRELL, age 40, of Nettie, West Virginia, a former employee of Brooks Run Mining Company at the Poplar Ridge Number 1 Deep Mine in Webster County, West Virginia, was sentenced to five years probation with the first 12 months to be served in home detention. FERRELL entered a plea of guilty on March 8, 2011, to one count of an Indictment charging him with making false statements, representations, and certifications in MSHA documents. As part of the plea, FERRELL stipulated that on 489 occasions from September 15, 2008, to June 5, 2009, he knowingly and falsely stated and certified in a report filed and required to be maintained that he was certified by the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Education to conduct Preshift and/or Onshift safety examinations, when in fact he knew that he was not and has never been so certified.

“It’s a shame that the Defendants in this matter elected to take shortcuts in order to help themselves while at the same time putting their fellow miners at risk,” said USA Ihlenfeld. “The United States Attorney’s Office takes workplace safety violations very seriously, and we will continue to aggressively prosecute these cases.”

Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary Joseph A. Main stated, “Mine examinations are a critical element in assuring a safe work place and to prevent injuries, illnesses, and death. Falsification of mine examinations risks miner safety and will be prosecuted to the full extent permitted by law.”

The cases were prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen D. Warner. The cases were investigated by the United States Mine Safety & Health Administration.

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