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Mine officials face prison for safety violations

Associated Press Modified: November 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Two officials at an eastern Kentucky mine where a coal miner was killed last year knowingly violated federal safety laws, according to proposed plea agreements filed in federal court.

Jefferson Davis and Joseph Miniard are planning to plead guilty and could possibly be sent to prison when they are sentenced March 6 in U.S. District Court in London.

The men were supervisors at Manalapan Mining's P-1 Mine in Harlan County during a June 2011 underground collapse that killed miner David Partin.

Miniard, the mine's superintendent, will plead guilty to a charge that he signed a pre-shift report that failed to include an existing hazardous condition in the mine. The mining equipment did not have canopies to protect equipment operators, court records said.

The charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and up to three years of supervised released.

Partin, 49, died when a large section of rock from the mine's wall fell on him, knocking him into a dolly, according to a report from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Investigators say the mine's continuous haulage system backed up, causing the dolly to move, which dragged Partin from beneath the rock.

Miniard's attorney, Patrick Nash of Lexington, said Friday that he would request that his client be granted probation instead of a prison sentence.

"Typically with a plea like this, you wouldn't expect to receive the absolute maximum" sentence, Nash said. Nash declined to say whether Miniard still worked for Manalapan Mining.

Miniard and Davis, the operations manager, will also plead guilty to a charge that they knowingly violated a safety rule, according to the proposed plea agreements. That count carries a maximum sentence of one year.

The agreement also says Manalapan could be fined up to $250,000.

The men along with the mine's second-shift foreman, Bryant Massingale, were indicted on several charges in February. Massingale pleaded guilty in August to making a false certification and knowingly violating a safety standard. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10.

The indictment said records of pre-shift inspections kept by the supervisors dating from June 13 to June 28 were falsified. Partin died on June 29.


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