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Blankenship Found Guilty on Conspiracy Charge, Acquitted of Making False Statements

Blankenship Trial
Dave Mistich
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship leaves the federal courthouse in Charleston after a verdit was delivered Thursday afternoon.

Jurors have found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards, a misdemeanor charge that carries up to a year of jail time. Deliberations lasted about 10 days.

The charges stemmed from an April 2010 explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, W.Va. The blast killed 29 men who were working underground.

Jurors returned not-guilty verdicts on two counts of making false statements.

The government charged Blankenship with lying to investors and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission about Massey’s safety record following the Upper Big Branch explosion.

The trial began Oct. 1 in Charleston federal district court.

In seven weeks of testimony, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office called 27 witnesses. The defense rested its case without calling a single witness.

Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. on March 23. The defense says it will argue to push back date by a week because lead defense attorney has plans to be out of the country. 

The prosecution requested an additional $10 million bond, arguing that Blankenship still poses a flight risk. Judge Berger denied the motion.

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