Vile CEO Will Go To Trial For Cover-Up That Resulted In 29 Deaths

Affluenza has become a pandemic problem. For far too long, the wealthy have been unable to be prosecuted due to this terrible, fictitious disease. Fortunately, it looks like there may be a cure in the works.

In 2010, the worst mining disaster in decades occurred at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. There was a massive underground explosion that resulted in the deaths of 29 people. The mine was then owned by Massey Energy. Their then CEO Don Blankenship has been accused of covering up hundreds of safety breaches at the mine. Had those safety violations not been covered up, and the proper federally mandated procedures followed, the fire that occurred in the mine would have been quickly extinguished. Yet the violations were covered up and ignored, and 29 men had to pay for the greed of one CEO with their lives. After years of legal battles, Blankenship is now finally being brought to criminal trial for his alleged crimes. Reuters reports:

More than 100 people have been called for jury selection in Charleston’s U.S. District Court. Judge Irene Berger moved the trial from Beckley after Blankenship’s lawyers complained he could not get a fair trial there because of intense pre-trial publicity. Blankenship, who led Massey from 2000 to 2010, pleaded not guilty in 2014 and is free on a $5 million cash bond. His lawyers had repeatedly sought a delay in the trial. Blankenship faces a maximum 31 years in prison if convicted on all charges. Massey Energy was purchased in 2011 by Alpha Natural Resources Inc. for about $7 billion. Blankenship is accused of conspiring to falsify dust samples and violating federal securities laws by lying about Massey’s safety practices.

This is an historic moment. Blankenship’s trial presents the possibility of a future free from the scourge of affluenza. The miners’ families have been compensated for their losses by Alpha Natural Resources. They each received $1.5 million back in 2011. The company also paid $209 million dollars in criminal charges, despite Alpha’s lack of involvement in the explosion.

However, money cannot buy back a loved one. Neither would the prosecution of Blankenship, though they would finally see justice be brought to the man whose mismanagement and carelessness led to the deaths of their loved ones. But, just perhaps, the next coal mine CEO will look at Blankenship in his prison jumpsuit and think twice about cutting corners to save a little money.

Featured Image Credit:By Emmanuel Huybrechts from Laval, Canada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons