"The chief of security for Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine lied to investigators and tried to destroy mine records, a grand jury has alleged in the first charges to come from a federal criminal probe of the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 coal miners.
Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, of Clear Fork in Raleigh County, was charged with two felonies that allege he tried to obstruct FBI agents and U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration investigators looking into the mine disaster.
The eight-page indictment alleges Stover lied to investigators about company policies and practices regarding warning mine personnel when federal safety inspectors arrived on site. It also alleges Stover tried to destroy thousands of pages of security documents investigators believe could shed light on how Massey handles such matters.
'The conduct charged by the grand jury -- obstruction of justice and false statements to federal investigators -- threatens our effort to find out what happened at Upper Big Branch,' said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. 'With 29 coal miners lost and thousands more waiting for answers about what caused the disaster, this inquiry is simply too important to tolerate any attempt to hinder it.'"
Ken Ward Jr. reports for the Charleston Gazette February 28, 2011.
"Massey Official Charged with Lying to FBI in Mine Investigation" (Washington Post)