Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

BLANKENSHIP TRIAL DAY 6 ; Defense Tries to Block Three More Phone Recordings

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

BLANKENSHIP TRIAL DAY 6 ; Defense Tries to Block Three More Phone Recordings

Article excerpt

As the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship continued on Thursday, attorneys for the defense filed a motion to prevent the government from introducing three additional telephone recordings made by Blankenship himself. In an 18-page motion, the defense argued that the audio recordings, which have yet to be introduced by the government, are either incomplete or irrelevant to the charges against Blankenship.

Among the recordings was a Nov. 6, 2009, phone call between Blankenship and Performance Coal Co. President Chris Blanchard.

According to a transcript of the call, which was included in the newly filed motion, Blankenship tells Blanchard that he's having a hard time hearing him on the phone.

"You reckon when you're talking to your people at the mines that they can't hear you any better than I could and maybe they're afraid to tell you they can't hear you and that's the reason they don't do what you tell 'em? Blankenship says.

"Sir, I, that's possible, Blanchard responds.

"My guess is you hold the phone under your chin instead of in front of your mouth, Blankenship continues.

"I was, sir, Blanchard says, to which Blankenship responds, "OK. Bad habit.

The exchange was referenced by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby during his opening statement on Oct. 6.

"In another one [telephone recording] you'll hear that defendant - hear the defendant [Blankenship] tell that group president [Blanchard] who was directly over UBB to follow his instructions all the way down to the way he held the telephone when he's on a phone call, Ruby told the jury.

In another phone call between Blankenship and Blanchard, which took place on Jan. 23, 2009, the former CEO told Blanchard he was disappointed that he didn't follow Blankenship's directions.

"I want to tell you that I'm not happy, Blankenship says. "We need to pay attention to what I want to do and you need to make sure it happens exactly the way I want it to happen. And that's what you're paid to do.

The statement was another one that Ruby mentioned during his opening remarks.

The third call the defense was hoping to prevent the government from using took place on April 2, 2009. …

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