Judge denies millions in restitution in ex-coal CEO case

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – A judge has ruled that an ex-energy company CEO does not have to pay $28 million in restitution related to a mine explosion in 2010 that killed 29 men.

In her order issued Monday, Judge Irene Berger said ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship doesn’t have to pay Alpha Natural Resources for legal fees paid for former Massey employees, cooperation with investigators and fines.

Blankenship was convicted Dec. 3 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine. The southern West Virginia coal mine exploded in 2010.

Berger wrote that Alpha incurred the financial hardships at least a year after Blankenship’s indictment period, after Alpha bought Massey in 2011 and voluntarily entered a non-prosecution agreement with the government.

Blankenship’s sentencing is Wednesday. He faces up to a year in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Alpha declined to comment Monday.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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