Former Upper Big Branch mine supervisor requests sentencing delay

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The former superintendent of West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine has asked that his sentencing, set for Jan. 17, be delayed while he continues to cooperate with a federal investigation of the 2010 explosion that killed 29 Massey Energy miners.

In a motion filed two weeks ago, Gary May and his lawyer, Tim Carrico, said he would lose the benefit of his plea agreement's cooperation provision -- a potentially lighter sentence -- if the sentencing isn't pushed back.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger two days earlier had denied a similar request by the U.S. attorney's office, saying prosecutors hadn't shown "good cause" for a continuance. Prosecutors also had cited Mr. May's continuing cooperation as a reason for a delay. Mr. May pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Federal prosecutors said he manipulated the mine ventilation system to mislead inspectors and disabled a methane monitor on a cutting machine several months before the April 5 blast. The explosion was the worst mining disaster in the nation in four decades.

Several other officials have been charged in the investigation, including David Hughart, former president of Massey's Green Valley Resource Group, who was accused in November of violating mine safety laws and conspiring to impede inspectors. Mr. Hughart, the highest-ranking official to be charged, also agreed to plead guilty and cooperate.

In March, the former security chief at the mine, Hughie Stover, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents.

region - businessnews

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.


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