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Press Release

Harlan County Mine Officials Sentenced For Violating Safety Standards

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LONDON, KY - Former officials from an underground coal mine operation in Harlan County, KY., were sentenced today for violating mine safety standards.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove sentenced mine foreman, Bryant Massingale, 53, of Cawood, KY., mine superintendent, Joseph Miniard, 54, of Smith, KY., and operations manager, Jefferson Davis, 47, of Harlan, KY., for violations of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) mine safety standards.

Miniard received a $3,000 fine and three years of probation for a misdemeanor and felony offense of failing to report and record a hazardous condition. Judge Van Tatenhove ordered Miniard to serve his initial six months in home incarceration to be followed by a six month period of home detention. Massingale was fined $3,000 and sentenced to three years of probation, with six months to be served in home confinement, for failing to report and record a hazardous condition. Davis was fined $5,000 and sentenced to three years of probation for a misdemeanor offense of failing to provide protective canopies over persons operating mining equipment.

Judge Van Tatenhove scheduled a hearing to determine what fine, if any, to impose for Manalapan Mining Company.

According to court records, from June 11, 2011 until June 29, 2011 the defendants allowed miners at the Harlan County P1-mine to work under roof conditions and operate electrical equipment that did not meet MSHA’s mandatory safety standards. Specifically, miners used mobile bridge carriers without a canopy, which is needed to protect miners from roof collapses. Court records state that the canopies were available but never installed.

Under MSHA regulations, certain mine officials are required to perform daily inspections of the working sections of the mine and examine the equipment before allowing miners to work. After inspecting the mine, these officials are required to make written records of any hazardous conditions and address safety issues prior to the miners working in those sections of the mine.

Massingale and Miniard admitted they intentionally failed to document the hazardous working conditions in the mine and falsely signed and certified records stating that there were no hazardous conditions.

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 sentences today.

The investigation was conducted by MSHA. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick H. Molloy and Jason Grover with the Department of Labor.

Updated November 30, 2015