By JOHN RABY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – Attorneys for Don Blankenship and the federal government are back in court this week as the former coal operator appeals his conviction in connection with the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.
Oral arguments are scheduled for Wednesday before a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case that other coal mining executives fear could set a precedent exposing them to criminal conspiracy charges as well.
The former Massey Energy CEO is serving a one-year sentence for the misdemeanor of conspiring to willfully violate safety standards at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine before the 2010 explosion killed 29 men.
Former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says he’s “extraordinarily confident” Blankenship will lose. Blankenship attorney Bill Taylor says “what matters is what the judges feel.”
Other coal mining executives fear a precedent that could expose other mining leaders to criminal conspiracy charges.
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