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Prosecutors Seek Max of 1 Year in Prison for Blankenship

Ashton Marra
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Prosecutors want a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for convicted ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who ran a West Virginia coal mine that was the site of a deadly explosion.

In a sentencing memorandum in federal court Monday, prosecutors said a shorter sentence could only be interpreted as declaring that mine safety laws aren't to be taken seriously.

Prosecutors wrote that Upper Big Branch Mine was a powder keg 1,000 feet below the surface, primed to blow at any time. The mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

Blankenship was convicted Dec. 3 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at the mine.

In their memorandum, Blankenship's attorneys say he shouldn't receive more than probation and a fine. They say they intend to appeal. Defense attorneys included letters from people commending him.

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