Ex-Massey official get 3½ years in mine conspiracy

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — A former Massey Energy mine executive who acknowledged he conspired in an illegal advance-warning scheme at West Virginia coal mines has been ordered to spend 3½ years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger sentenced David Hughart on conspiracy charges Tuesday that arose from a criminal investigation of West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The April 2010 explosion that killed 29 men at that mine was the worst U.S. mining disaster in four decades.

Hughart, a former president of ex-Massey subsidiary White Buck Coal Co., never worked at Upper Big Branch but is cooperating in a probe of the disaster.

He acknowledged he helped ensure miners at other Massey operations got illegal advance warning of surprise safety inspections.

Massey is now owned by Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources.

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