Judge Irene Berger

Don Blankenship
Tyler Evert / AP Photo

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been sentenced to the maximum one year in prison and another year of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy at the company to skirt mine safety standards. Judge Irene Berger also imposed a maximum $250,000 fine, which is due immediately.

Blankenship was convicted in December of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws--a misdemeanor. The charge stemmed from an investigation into the April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine near Montcoal that killed 29 men.

Jim Justice
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

  A company owned by billionaire coal businessman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice is in contempt of federal court after a judge says the company hasn't paid debts and has repeatedly failed to show up for court hearings.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ordered Justice Energy Company in contempt on Jan. 5 for not paying a nearly $150,000 debt owed to a construction equipment company.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal District Judge Irene Berger issued an Allen charge to jurors in the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship Tuesday morning.


In the charge, which is given to prevent a hung jury, the judge urged jurors to consider both the majority and minority opinions as they continue to deliberate. Berger also added an instruction that if jurors can reach an agreement on some of the charges, they may return a partial verdict.

Associated Press

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. Be sure to keep refreshing this post for the latest. For more, follow @wvpublicnews on Twitter. For more on the verdict, see this post. 

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will soon be asked to deliver a verdict.

At 10:10 a.m. Monday, the prosecution rested its case. In a surprising move just moments after a bench conference, the defense also rested without calling any witnesses to the stand.

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.

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.

wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

  Attorneys for Don Blankenship say prosecutors have given them more than 4 million pages of documents without identifying information that the government plans to rely on at the former Massey CEO's trial.

In a motion filed Tuesday, the attorneys say they won't have time to review all the documents to find this information before the trial, which is scheduled for July. Their motion asks U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to order prosecutors to identify all documents that they intend to use.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

  A federal judge won't decide whether to move former coal baron Don Blankenship's criminal trial until after potential jurors are questioned in Beckley, West Virginia.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A lawyer for five media organizations has urged a federal appeals court to toss out a gag order in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. He's charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards.

The Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, NPR, The Associated Press and other news outlets are appealing U.S. District Judge Irene Berger's gag order in the case. 

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

  A judge won't let a West Virginia ex-coal baron facing criminal charges head home for the holidays.

A docket entry on Monday shows U.S. District Judge Irene Berger in Beckley denied ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's motion to travel home for the holidays.

During his case, Blankenship's travel is restricted to southern West Virginia, Pike County, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. Other travel needs judicial approval.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by relatives of three men killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster who claimed Alpha Natural Resources failed to pay them each $1.5 million as promised under a settlement with the federal government.