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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          Feb. 2, 2012                   

MINE OPERATOR SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR MAKING A FALSE STATEMENT TO FEDERAL MINE SAFETY INVESTIGATORS

BECKLEY, W.Va. –Raymond C. Dawson, 57, of Raysal, McDowell County, West Virginia, was sentenced today to six months in prison and three years of supervised release by United States District Judge Irene C. Berger in connection with a federal investigation at the Brooks Run Mining Company, LLC – Cucumber Mine located in McDowell County.  Dawson pleaded guilty in May to a single count information, charging him with making a false statement to special investigators with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Dawson had been certified by MSHA to provide certain required training to miners.  Griffith Construction Company (“Griffith Construction”), an independent contractor that performed construction and other services at Brooks Run’s Cucumber Mine, used Dawson to provide training to its miners. 

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin stated, “Keeping miners safe is and will continue to be a top priority of this office and we will continue to focus our resources on bringing to justice individuals who jeopardize that safety.”

Dawson admitted that on November 3, 2008, near Iaeger, McDowell County, he knowingly and willfully made a materially false statement to special investigators with MSHA.  At the time, Dawson further admitted that he falsely stated and represented to special investigators that “I always give the required training and always keep the miners the required amount of time,” when in fact, he had not given the required training to miners employed by Griffith Construction and had not kept the miners the required amount of time for training. 

Joseph A. Main, Assistant Secretary, Mine Safety and Health Administration, stated: "Sentencing in this case serves as a sober reminder of the important role training plays in keeping the Nation's miners safe and healthy."

The Mine Act requires that new miners at a coal mine receive a certain number of hours of initial training.  Regulations further require that initial training include instruction on: the miners’ work environment, including a visit to and a tour of the mine; hazard recognition; and health and safety aspects of the tasks to which they would be assigned. 

The mine safety regulations require that experienced miners receive eight hours of annual refresher training.  Regulations also specify training on mandatory health and safety standards related to the miners’ tasks, transportation controls and communication systems, firefighting, first aid, prevention of accidents, and the recognition and avoidance of electrical hazards.

At sentencing, the Court ordered that the first 6 months of the defendant’s three-year supervised release term to be spent on home confinement. 

This investigation was conducted by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.  Assistant United States Attorney Philip H. Wright handled the prosecution. 

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