Of the 31 miners who worked in the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, 29 were killed in an explosion on April 5, 2010. In May of 2011, the company that owned the mine, Massey Energy, was found to be negligent and reckless in the disaster; that June, the government suggested that Massey had falsified its safety records.

Massey Energy’s former CEO, Don Blankenship, is “a really bad dude,” as David Roberts wrote in 2006. The 2010 explosion followed a long string of problems and warning signs. Blankenship doesn’t seem to have been concerned. As far back as 2003, he told Forbes that his company “[doesn’t] pay much attention to the violation count.”

Don Blankenship blocks the camera.

Perhaps the threat of jail time for one of Massey’s top executives will prompt other coal execs to pay closer attention. From the Associated Press:

An executive who ran several Massey Energy coal companies and worked closely with former CEO Don Blankenship faces criminal conspiracy charges and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, a sign that authorities may be targeting Blankenship himself in the fatal West Virginia blast that was the nation’s worst mine disaster in four decades.

David Craig Hughart, president of a Massey subsidiary that controlled White Buck Coal Co., is named in a federal information document — which signals a defendant is cooperating — filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Beckley. …