Caperton Coda: Blankenship Gets a Year in Jail for Mining Disaster


The sentencing, in Federal District Court here, came six years and one day after an explosion tore through Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine, killing 29 people. Although Mr. Blankenship was not accused of direct responsibility for the accident, the deadliest in American coal mining in about 40 years, the disaster prompted the federal inquiry that led to Mr. Blankenship’s indictment.

In addition to the year in jail, Mr. Blankenship was fined $250,000 and is subject to a year of supervised release.

“My main point is wanting to express sorrow to the families and everyone for what happened,” Mr. Blankenship said in court before the sentencing. But he added later: “I am not guilty of a crime.”

The Justice Department had urged Judge Irene C. Berger, the daughter of a coal miner, to sentence Mr. Blankenship to a year in prison, the maximum penalty. Mr. Blankenship’s defense lawyers, who are planning an appeal, recommended that he be fined and placed on probation.

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