Last updated: July 18. 2013 2:27PM - 240 Views
Debbie Rolen
Staff Writer

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BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Sentencing is being delayed for a former Massey Energy official who pleaded guilty to charges resulting from an investigation into the 2010 explosion at another Massey mine that killed 29 men.

A federal judge agreed Wednesday to postpone David Hughart’s scheduled June 25 sentencing until Aug. 1 at the request of his attorney, The Charleston Gazette reported Thursday.

Hughart pleaded guilty to two federal conspiracy charges for working with others to ensure miners at White Buck Coal Co., where he was president, and other Massey-owned operations got advance warning about surprise federal inspections between 2000 and March 2010.

Hughart is cooperating with federal investigators as they continue to look into practices at Massey, which has since been bought out by Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources, leading up to the explosion. At his plea hearing in February, Hughart implicated former chief executive Don Blankenship in safety violations.

Blankenship retired about eight months after the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine and is the man many families of those killed have said they’d like to see prosecuted.

While Blankenship has refused to comment to reporters, he wrote on his blog last week that Hughart had been fired from his job with Massey for misconduct.

“(Hughart) is expecting to get a reduced sentence for his plea,” Blankenship wrote. “Maybe he will, but he is not telling the truth about me.”

Hughart is the highest ranking of three former mine workers convicted since the investigation began into the explosion. He faces up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $350,000 when he is sentenced.

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