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Plea hearing for ex-Massey coal mine exec delayed

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BECKLEY (AP) -

A plea hearing for a former president of Massey Energy's White Buck Coal Co. has been delayed until February.

A federal judge in Beckley Friday granted David Hughart's request to postpone next week's hearing until Feb. 28.

The judge agreed to give defense attorney Michael Whitt more time to review the case after allowing former attorney Tim Carrico to withdraw from the case because of an unidentified conflict of interest.

Hughart is set to enter a plea to two federal conspiracy charges. He's accused of working with unnamed co-conspirators to ensure miners at White Buck and other Massey-owned operations got advance warning about surprise federal inspections between 2000 and March 2010.

The charges resulted from prosecutors' investigation into the 2010 explosion at another Massey operation that killed 29 men.

Hughart denies any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.