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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Truck Company Owner, Company Plead Guilty to Violating Mine Safety and Health ActWill Pay $375,000 in Fines and Penalties

Hillis Bresee, Bresee Trucking Company Provided Advanced Noticed of Safety Inspections

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Big Stone Gap coal trucking company and its owner pled guilty today in Federal Court to violating the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act by providing advance notice of safety inspections, and other violations, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced.

Hillis Bresee, 63, of Big Stone Gap, pled guilty today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of safety inspections.  The maximum statutory penalty faced by the defendant is up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Bresee Trucking also pled guilty today to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of inspections  and one count of willfully violating mine safety health or safety standards.

In conjunction with the plea agreements, Bresee Trucking entered into a civil settlement with the United States Department of Labor.  As part of the plea agreement and civil settlement, Bresee Trucking and Hillis Bresee agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties, a total of $70,000 in restitution to two former employees of the company, and fines of $5,000.

“Congress enacted the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act to protect our miners. Those who work in this dangerous profession must know their employers will be held to these high safety standards and that when they ignore those rules they will be held accountable,” United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. said today.

“This plea agreement and civil settlement demonstrate that the Departments of Labor and Justice continue to work together to help ensure that every miner can go home to his or her family at the end of their shift,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Willis Bresee and Bresee Trucking, violated the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, in approximately February 2012, by giving advance notice of safety inspections and failing to ensure adequate inspections of coal haul tractor trailers, including to the braking systems.

United States Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent accepted the guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for August 15, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Norton Office of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Kevin L. Jayne prosecuted the criminal case for the United States.  The civil proceedings were handled by J. Matthew McCracken of the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor.

Updated May 1, 2017