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Tag: Charleston

Coal King Don Blankenship Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Safety Violations

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 6.31.39 PM

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Former Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Don Blankenship, 66, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Charleston, W. Va., to one year in prison and fined $250,000 for conspiracy to violate mine health and safety standards in West Virginia where 29 miners were killed in a coal dust explosion six years ago.

In December he became the first CEO in U.S. history to be convicted of a workplace-safety crime, Bloomberg reports. 

“This sentence is a victory for workers and workplace safety,”  Acting U.S. Attorney Carol Casto said in a statement “It lets companies and their executives know that you can’t take chances with the lives of coal miners and get away with it.  Putting the former chief executive officer of a major corporation in prison sends a message that violating mine safety laws is a serious crime and those who break those laws will be held accountable.”

A Justice Department press release stated:

Over the course of the trial, in which jury selection began on Oct. 1, 2015, and the jury returned a guilty verdict on Dec. 3, 2015, the jury heard evidence from 27 witnesses called by the United States.  Many of these witnesses were coal miners who worked at the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine prior to the 2010 explosion and they testified in detail from their firsthand knowledge of the unsafe working conditions at UBB, violations of U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regulations and organized efforts to obstruct and interfere with MSHA inspectors.

The jury heard from Bill Ross, former Manager of Technical Services at Massey, who testified that he warned Blankenship about the company’s practice of rampant violations and told the defendant prior to the UBB explosion that Massey’s standard tactic of ignoring or defrauding MSHA could not be sustained without the possibility of a serious accident that could have fatalities.  The evidence also showed that Blankenship received daily updates on safety violations and helped perpetuate them.

“Putting profits over the safety of workers is reprehensible,” Casto remarked.  “The jury acknowledged that with the guilty verdict and the sentence imposed today recognizes that disregarding safety laws has real consequences.  From the beginning, the objective of this investigation and this prosecution was to not only show that those who violate safety laws will be held responsible, but also to deter these violations in the future to make everyone’s workplace safer.”

Friend of Alleged Charleston Church Shooter Arrested by FBI

handcuffsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI on Thursday arrested a man who gave shelter to the accused Charleston church shooter, Dylann Roof, and then allegedly lied to investigators in an attempt to cover up for his friend.

The Washington Post reports that Joey Meek is expected to be arraigned today on charges of making false statements to federal officials and “misprision of a felony.”

“We knew it was going to happen,” his girlfriend told the Post, referring to the arrest, “but we don’t understand why it was happening.”

The FBI believes Roof stayed at Meek’s trailer in Lexington County in the weeks before the shooting.

Was FBI Director Right When He Said Charleston Shooting Not Terrorism?

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey came under fire after he said the mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, was not terrorism.

Dylann Roof, who is white, has been charged in the killings and has a history of racism. He even posted a manifesto espousing his hatred for black people.

“Terrorism is an act of violence done … in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry so it’s more of a political act and again based on what I know so more I don’t see it as a political act,” Comey said during a press conference in Baltimore on Sunday.

According to the FBI, “domestic terrorism” is committed if it appears the person “intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”

In Detroit, the police chief called the culprits of a mass shooting over the weekend “urban terrorists.”

 

Charleston NAACP Asks Justice Department to Probe Excessive Force Against Black Men

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Charleston civil rights supporters are calling for an investigation into a “troubling and outrageous trend” lethal police force against black men, the Post and Courier reports.

Don Scott, president of the city’s NAACP, said Saturday’s shooting of a black man is one of four police-involved shootings since March 2012.

Scott said officers have declared “open hunting season on black men.”

Justice Department officials would not comment on the request for an investigation.