Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, infamous for his flouting of safety regulations, won’t be spending 30 years behind bars, but he didn’t escape his federal criminal trial unscathed.
Blankenship’s trial was the outcome of investigations into a fatal 2010 Massey coal mine explosion that killed 29 miners in West Virginia. After more than 40 hours of deliberation, a jury of eight women and four men convicted Blankenship on Thursday of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards, while finding him not guilty of securities fraud and making false statements to investors and regulators. He faces a maximum of one year in prison out of a potential 30 years because — despite evidence that his direction created dangerous conditions that led to theUpper Big Branch mine explosion — the majority of the potential prison sentence was tied to the question of whether he’d lied to investors and the feds in a statement following the disaster.
Blankenship’s career exploits made him a symbol of capitalism’s vicious side, a villain to environmentalists, unions, and anyone that got between him and a profit. He broke labor strikes, gobbled up weaker competitors... Read more