Massey Coal Mine security chief indicted for deaths

May 19, 2011, 10:29 by R.E. Christian

A new federal indictment Tuesday against the security chief of a West Virginia coal mine where 29 miners died last year alleges he lied to investigators.

The U.S. attorney's office said in a release the superseding indictment handed up in Charleston accuses Hughie Elbert Stover, 59, of Clear Fork, W.Va., of making false statements in a sworn deposition before the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration team investigating the cause of the deadly April 2010 explosion at Massey Energy Co.'s Upper Big Branch Mine.

Stover is chief of security at the mine and at least two other Massey operations. He was charged in February with obstructing justice by concealing documents and making materially false statements to federal agents in the criminal investigation of events at the mine.

The MSHA investigation is separate from the criminal investigation.

Federal prosecutors allege Stover told members of the MSHA investigative team security guards he supervised were forbidden from announcing the arrival of MSHA inspectors, when he actually directed guards to provide warning of impending inspections.

"The MSHA investigators probing the UBB explosion are doing vitally important work -- work that promises to save many lives in the years ahead," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a statement. "Anyone who tries to deceive those investigators dishonors the memories of the men lost at UBB and puts every miner in America at risk. We have zero tolerance for that kind of callous, criminal behavior."

Source: UPI