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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Texas

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mine Inspector Admits Falsifying Mine Safety Inspection Reports

DALLAS — A Eustace, Texas, man who worked as an inspector for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) appeared in federal court this morning and pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge David L. Horan to a federal offense related to his purposefully falsifying mine safety inspection reports with the intent to deceive the MSHA, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.

Nathan Edward Welch, 35, pleaded guilty to an Information charging one count of making a false statement in an official writing.  He faces a maximum statutory penalty of one year in federal prison and a $100,000 fine.  According to the plea agreement, Welch agrees to resign/retire from MSHA within five calendar days of the date he enters his plea, and he agrees to not seek any future employment with the U.S. government.  Sentencing is set for March 8, 2017, before Judge Horan.

According to documents filed in his case, from approximately June to July 2016, Welch stated in a MSHA report that he had completed an onsite inspection from July 6, 2016, to July 11, 2016, for the Dead River Ranch Materials Riesel Sand and Gravel Plant when he knew he had not conducted any such inspection and had never traveled to or met any representative of the Dead River Ranch Materials Mining Operation for an inspection.

In addition, Welch falsified at least three other inspection reports that claimed he performed inspections on the following dates at the following locations:

July 12, 2016              Big Sandy Sand Company North Pit and Mining Operation
                                    Hawkins, Texas

June 1, 2016                Cedar Creek Stone Mine
                                    Groesbeck, Texas

June 23, 2016-            Trinity Lightweight Expanded Shale and Clay Plant
June 30, 2016              Streetman, Texas

In completing these falsified inspection reports, Welch used previously completed reports to create the falsified reports and hand-copied the field notes for these four locations from inspection reports that had been completed earlier in the year.

The case is being investigated by the DOL Office of Inspector General (OIG).  Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.

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Updated November 7, 2016