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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                          July 29, 2013                   

MERCER CO. MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL MINE SAFETY VIOLATION  

BLUEFIELD, W. Va. – A Mercer County man who falsified mandatory mine safety reports while employed at several West Virginia mining operations pleaded guilty today to a federal charge, announced U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Craig Belcher, 36, of Bluefield, W.Va., pleaded guilty to providing a false statement, representation and certification in a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) document. 

In January 2009, Belcher was hired to work as an underground mine foreman at Spartan Mining Company’s Road Fork No. 51 mine located in Wyoming County.  Also in February 2009, Belcher was hired to perform mine foreman duties at Frasure Creek’s Mine No. 15 located in Fayette County.  Belcher also performed similar foreman duties in May 2009 at Pay Car’s Mine No. 58 in McDowell County, and, in July 2010 at Double Bonus’s Mine No. 65 in Wyoming County.

Between January 27, 2009 and July 13, 2010, Belcher signed pre-shift and on-shift reports which indicated that he had properly examined particular sections at each mine.  Belcher was not certified as a foreman when he completed the mine reports.  Belcher also falsified information on pre-shift and on-shift reports by using foreman’s numbers that did not belong to him.  

Belcher faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on December 2, 2013 by Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber.

The investigation was conducted by MSHA.  Assistant United States Attorney Blaire Malkin is in charge of the prosecution.  

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