(CHARLESTON, W.Va.) — West Virginia coal boss Donald Blankenship is expected to report to a California prison Thursday after a judge denied his legal team’s last-ditch effort to keep their disgraced client a free man.
Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, was convicted in December and later sentenced to one year in prison for conspiring to violate safety standards ahead of an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 workers in 2010. At the time of his sentencing, prosecutors bemoaned such a short sentence — the maximum for the conspiracy charge — for what they called “monstrous” wrongdoing.
After the disaster, a federal safety inspection found that “if basic safety measures had been in place… there would have been no loss of life at UBB [Upper Big Branch].”
Attorneys for Blankenship filed an emergency motion Tuesday in hopes of convincing the judge to allow Blankenship to remain out of prison on $1 million bail as his case goes through appeal. Prosecutors argued that the motion was redundant, that the defense had already made that request. On Thursday morning, the judge sided with prosecutors and denied Blankenship’s motion.
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