Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

The trial of former Massey CEO Don Blankenship began Thursday, Oct. 1, in Charleston. Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards and lying to investors about the safety record of his company following the April 2010, Upper Big Branch mine disaster that killed 29 men.

Our very own Ashton Marra spoke with WNYC's The Takeaway to preview the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Marra recaps the events of the April 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, explains the charges against Blankenship and the response of locals here in West Virginia.

AP Photo

As the state's focus shifts to Charleston this week for the start of former Massey CEO Don Blankenship's trial, we're taking a look back at a 2005 special episode of Outlook titled "The Kingmaker."

The half hour special profiles Blankenship and his political influence at the time, just after the 2004 election when he spent some $5 million on the campaign to elect Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin.

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra talks with NPR investigative reporter Howard Berkes and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam to review the charges against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship as his trial gets underway later this week.  That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

AP Photo/Jeff Gentner, File / AP

Once he was considered untouchable, but next week former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship is scheduled to go on trial on conspiracy to violate mine safety standards and conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials charges. Blankenship denies the charges.

Those charges stem from an investigation that followed the Upper Big Branch Disaster that killed 29 men in 2010. It’s a trial that folks in the coalfields never thought would happen.

In this episode, we take a look back at how we got here and talk about the significance of this case.  You can also hear part of a special investigative series of reports about outlaw coal mining companies, that keep operating despite injuries, violations and millions of dollars in fines.

Blankenship Trial
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

On Monday April 5, 2010, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, killed 29 miners. At the time, the mine was owned by Massey Energy, which federal regulators and a state funded independent investigation found responsible for the blast. Massey’s CEO was Don Blankenship.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

A federal judge has denied a motion from former Massey CEO Don Blankenship to delay his trial slated to begin October 1.

Judge Irene Berger issued the order Thursday.

Blankenship’s attorneys filed the motion to reschedule last week after receiving more than 70,000 documents from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office. Blankenship's attorneys said they needed more time to review the documents. 

Blankenship Trial
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Federal prosecutors are opposing another push by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to delay his Oct. 1 trial start.

In Beckley federal court Tuesday, prosecutors wrote that Blankenship wants to postpone the trial to review "largely irrelevant documents" that he requested.

Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

Attorneys for former Massey Energy Chief Executive Officer Donald Blankenship are asking a judge to delay his criminal trial.

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

A questionnaire distributed to potential jurors asks whether they have formed any opinions about former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Other questions include whether potential jurors have formed any opinions about other investigations, trials and indictments related to the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine. The explosion killed 29 men.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A federal judge is ordering a jury pool of 300 southern West Virginians in the criminal case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

In southern West Virginia federal court Thursday, Judge Irene Berger ordered a random selection of 300 prospective jurors from the Charleston and Huntington divisions.

Prospective jurors will have to complete a questionnaire by Aug. 31.

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's lawyers say his compensation and stock holdings, along with other evidence, should be excluded from his trial.

Blankenship's lawyers argue in a Tuesday motion that evidence of his finances is irrelevant and would unfairly prejudice him. The motion was one of 16 defense filings seeking to exclude evidence.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Attorneys for former coal executive Don Blankenship are pressing for documents related to the deadly Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in 2010.

They want the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration to turn over what the attorneys say are previously undisclosed documents. They include any records about a meeting and a phone call between the former Massey Energy CEO and MSHA's chief Joe Main in the two months before the mining disaster.

gavel
wikimedia / Wikimedia

Lawyers for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are urging a federal judge to split his criminal trial so a charge alleging a conspiracy to violate mine safety laws would be heard separately from charges of lying to securities regulators and investors.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the request was made in a federal court filing Tuesday.

A judge has ruled against ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in motions over documents in his criminal case.

In Beckley federal court Monday, Judge Irene Berger issued four orders that don't favor Blankenship.

The government wants a judge to reject a former coal executive from traveling to North Carolina ahead of his trial on criminal charges stemming from the deadly Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.

Prosecutors filed their terse objection Friday to Don Blankenship's planned business trip. They declined to elaborate on their objection, according the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Prosecutors say in court documents that evidence about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster is a necessary part of the government's criminal case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wants a judge to let him take a business trip to North Carolina.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship want evidence about the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine kept out of his criminal trial this fall.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports the attorneys filed a motion late Friday asking a federal judge to instruct jurors that the trial does not concern the explosion that killed 29 miners, its cause or who was responsible.

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

A federal appeals court has denied former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's request to assign his case to a judge outside the Southern District of West Virginia.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rejected Blankenship's petition in a one-page order issued Tuesday.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are asking for an October trial in the criminal case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

A judge has denied a variety of motions by ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to get charges dropped in his criminal case.

In Beckley federal court Wednesday, Judge Irene Berger rejected nine of Blankenship's motions to dismiss.

A judge is letting ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship watch his son compete in an Ohio dirt track race.

Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDervort's order in Beckley federal court Wednesday permits Blankenship's June 5-6 trip to Sidney, Ohio.

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

A federal judge has ordered Alpha Natural Resources to pay former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's legal fees stemming from a criminal investigation and upcoming trial.

The Charleston Gazette reports that a ruling released Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court, the judge cited the terms of Massey's charter and the company's merger agreement with Alpha.

  Ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship wants permission to see his son compete in an Ohio dirt track race.

In a motion Tuesday in Beckley federal court, Blankenship requests the trip to Sidney, Ohio, from June 5-6.

The motion says Blankenship's son is a professional dirt track racer competing in the 41st Annual Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway in New Weston, Ohio. He drives the No. 23 "Coal" car.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former coal boss Don Blankenship wants his July trial start delayed until January.

In a motion in Beckley federal court Friday, attorneys for the ex-Massey Energy CEO say they wouldn't be prepared for a July 13 trial start.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

A federal magistrate judge says former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship can't spend Memorial Day in Las Vegas.

U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort denied Blankenship's travel request on Tuesday. VanDervort's ruling says the conditions of Blankenship's pre-trial release don't include traveling to Las Vegas to attend to personal matters.

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

 Former Massey Energy CEO Donald Blankenship's lawyers have asked a federal appeals court to assign his criminal case to a judge outside the Southern District of West Virginia.

A defense motion filed Monday with the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the district's judges should be disqualified from the case because their colleague, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, is the father of U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. The prosecutor's father doesn't handle criminal cases in the district.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

 Federal prosecutors are opposing former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's request to go home to Las Vegas for Memorial Day.

A prosecution motion filed Tuesday in Beckley federal court says Blankenship owns homes in several states. But there's little evidence of his ties to Las Vegas, other than his claiming residency there.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Federal prosecutors say ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's complaint about the four million documents in his criminal case is a backdoor attempt to get his trial delayed.

In a Tuesday filing in Beckley federal court, prosecutors say Blankenship wants special treatment by requesting that they identify which documents they'll use in the case.

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