FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 29, 2012
FORMER MINE SECURITY CHIEF SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN PRISON IN CONNECTION WITH FEDERAL MINE INVESTIGATION
AT UPPER BIG BRANCH
BECKLEY, W.Va. –Upper Big Branch Mine (UBB) chief of security Hughie Elbert Stover was sentenced today on two felonies in connection with a federal investigation at the former Massey Energy Company’s UBB Mine, announced R. Booth Goodwin II, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. Stover, 60, of Clear Fork, Raleigh County, W.Va., was sentenced to three years in prison by United States District Judge Irene C. Berger. Stover was convicted by a Beckley jury in October of making false statements to federal agents and obstructing a federal investigation. The defendant was the chief of security at UBB and at least two other then-Massey operations when an April 5, 2010 explosion claimed the lives of 29 miners and injured two others.
“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that when a person obstructs an investigation—especially an investigation as critical as UBB – there will be consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
A jury found that Stover made materially false statements to an FBI Special Agent and a Special Investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). These federal agents were investigating allegations that security guards at UBB routinely notified mine personnel when MHSA inspectors arrived at the mine. Stover falsely denied that such a practice existed and falsely told the agents that he would have fired any security guard who provided such advance notice. In addition, Stover himself instructed UBB security guards to notify mine personnel whenever MSHA inspectors arrived at the mine. The defendant also caused a person known to the grand jury to dispose of thousands of pages of security-related documents stored in a Massey building near the UBB mine, with the intent to impede the federal investigation.
Also at sentencing, the Court ordered the defendant to serve two years supervised release and pay a $20,000 fine.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from MSHA Special Investigators detailed to the criminal probe. Assistant United States Attorney Blaire Malkin handled the prosecution.