Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Former Massey CEO Requests to Remain Free Pending Appeal

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Former Massey CEO Requests to Remain Free Pending Appeal

Article excerpt

Attorneys for Don Blankenship said Thursday that if the former Massey Energy CEO is sentenced to any prison time, he should be allowed to remain free pending an appeal of his conviction. Blankenship's defense team filed a new, 39-page motion that asks U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger to continue Blankenship's release on bond while he seeks to have the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturn his conviction.

In the motion, defense lawyers argue that if Blankenship is sentenced to prison, "it would not be fair or reasonable for him to serve any time before the appeals court can consider and rule on his case.

"The maximum sentence here cannot exceed twelve months, the defense lawyers said. "If incarcerated pending appeal, Mr. Blankenship would serve much or all of any sentence before the Fourth Circuit decides the appeal.

In December, Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in an April 2010 underground explosion. He faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $250,000 fine, and also could be hit with millions of dollars in restitution claims.

Sentencing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. on April 6 in U.S. District Court in Charleston.

While he awaited trial, Blankenship remained free after he posted $5 million to assure he would appear in court. After Blankenship was convicted of one misdemeanor count, but acquitted of the felony charges brought against him, U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort lowered Blankenship's bond to $1 million and loosened travel restrictions so that Blankenship could travel to Las Vegas, where he says he now lives.

Under the law, defendants who have not been convicted generally must be allowed to remain free pending trial unless the government proves that they are a flight risk or a threat to the community. …

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