CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Federal investigators have charged 10 people with participating in kickback scheme involving an Arch Coal mining complex in Logan County and vendors that did business with the mine.

The charges brought Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office accuse David E. Runyon, the former general manager at Arch’s Mountain Laurel operation, and three other Arch employees with participating in the scheme with at least a half dozen different vendors.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Runyon, 45, of Delbarton and other Arch employees received kickbacks approaching $2 million between 2007 and 2012.

“This kind of pay-to-play scheme hurts honest coal industry vendors who refuse to pay bribes as a way to get customers,” Goodwin said.  “The corrupt way that these defendants did business should be a thing of the past.”

The 10 defendants are named in federal informations.  That means they are cooperating with investigators and are expected to plead guilty to the charges.

Those charged along with Runyon include:

Gary K. Griffith, 62, of Oceana; Stephen B. Herndon, 37, of Holden; Scott E. Ellis, 44 of Holden; Alvis R. Porter, 61, of Holden; David N. Herndon, 63 of Chauncey; Ronald Barnette, 53, of Holden; Gary L. Roeher, 52, of Holden; Chadwick J. Lusk, 32 of Davin; and James H. Evans II, 39, of Verdunville.

Runyon, Gary K. Griffith, Stephen B. Herndon, Chadwick J. Lusk all worked at Arch.

The allegations against the individuals show a similar pattern—a vendor would pay large amounts of cash to the Arch employees to obtain business with the mine.   For example, the information says Scott E. Ellis, who was a business partner in a company called Tri-State, paid nearly $425,000 over a five year period to receive work rebuilding mine equipment.

The charges stem from an investigation by the FBI, IRS, U.S. Postal Service and the West Virginia State Police.

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  • Brandy L

    Stupid ass mother F-----s ..... really the war on coal is over but your still stupid. We need coal. My husband has been a miner for 40 years. Im sure in that 40 years he has provided lights to many homes for many of you to enjoy a nice warm home, a cooked meal, a hot bath for your kids and that night light in the bathroom so u didnt miss the toilet. Dont hate what your to weak and scared to do to provide for your family. I forgot you wouldnt understand due to the fact it takes a special breed to be a coal miner . Coal has provide for this country and more for a long time and there is alot more coal in a lot of places still for a long time to come. So move out of that fancy house pop a tent and then you dont have to worry about using any power made from coal. I am sorry to tell you but you just cant fix stupid. Sorry also THANK YOU TO ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN OF COAL.

    • Rose McFrog

      What on earth does your rant have to do with illegal kickbacks? No one is knocking coal or coal miners (this WV resident agrees, coal is necessary for jobs and energy). Folks who don't stay on target just end up looking shrill and foolish.

  • Danny Wells

    Remember one thing. These so called vendors never only did business with Arch. They did it with other coal companies and I would venture to say the same kickback scheme!

  • Sick&tired

    I can't believe the people who completely have their head buried in the sand.They don't even look at the whole issue.They just want and want.With out even realizing the true benefits and cost.I work in the coal industry and if everything these people believe we're going to happen I would say go ahead and take my job and I will gladly pay the higher price.It's nothing to do with climate change.It's about greed and taking care of lobbyist for their party.They admitted that the difference in air quality wii be so small it don't matter.The only thing that's going to change is your electric bill,and I have a feeling the ones on here screaming their all for this is the ones that's going to be crying the loudest.I'll be seeing a lot of you down south since I'm close to retiring anyways.

  • stonewall 75

    they need to investigate the federal goverment from OBAMA on down for their kickbacks.

    • Jackson 75

      Just like all the crime in a all the communities, all bad weather, like all the flooding, mud slides, in our state....." Blame that on Obama" too. Guess Obama causes all our problems..... To hear some people talk we never had any problems until Obama became president..... Oh what short memories we have..... With the leadership of George Bush this country was ready to belly up and go under.... We was in the worst condition of the country that ever been since the 30s...... We're not now thanks to Obama....

  • Mountain Navy

    Will not matter anyway. Obama will kill coal in two years. With the help of Tennant.

    • uncle phil

      You're absolutely right. The President of the United States wants to destroy coal because he's got nothing else better to do than to worry about coal.

      OUR state is plagued with an unemployed, obese, and uneducated population. And, what's the answer to our problems? Coal? Coal is not the answer. Coal IS the problem. Coal is 'fool's gold' for the population of our state. The real answer is Education. The real answer is Innovation. The real answer is Technology.

      As long as we're viewed as a poor state whose only contribution to this country is COAL - then guess what? That's all we'll ever be.

      If I had a son who wanted to work in a coal mine - I would kick his behind. Our kids should be taking that same blue-collar, hardworking, tough-as-nails mentality our fathers used in the mine and apply it to the classroom. It's not 1863 anymore.

      • Old School

        I agree with Uncle Phil.

  • Mountain Navy

    Will not matter anyway. Coal will be dead in two years.

    • Aaron

      Not even close. Coal remains the number 1 source of electrical generation and will remain in that position until at least 2025 before being overtaken by natural gas.

  • Mountain Navy

    This will not matter anyway. Coal will be dead in two years because of Obama and Tennant.

  • nocoal001

    The people that say turn your lights off have to be the dumbest people ever do research wv power comes from less than 5 percent you no if coal goes under you will have to get a real job the mines now are mostly automated I have said it before you are not doing a public service your doing your job just like farmers, carpenters, and mechanics you think I'm the only one that is discussted with the attitudes of miners think again

    • WV Coal Miner

      You must not know anything about the mining industry. Nothing in the deep mines is automated

    • mttrucker you are an idiot West Virginia actually gets 95% of its power from coal and that helps it have the 7th lowest electricity rates in the nation. The mines aren't totally automated if you know so much go underground

  • Aaron

    For those who think this goes on only in the coal industry, I would submit that you've got your head in the clouds. Unfortunately, this model of business is as old as West Virginia itself and has been perfected by our local, county and state governments as well as other businesses. Where do you think coal executives learn the ropes?

  • Bob

    Don Blankenship..........remember him? I'm still waiting (praying) for that headline

    • Ricardo

      Don't hold your breath.

  • Picklebee

    Mr. Goodwin:
    Thanks for cleaning up a coal company. Now, how about cleaning up the "Router-gate" mess?
    Or, is it be be swept under the usual WV rug?

    • William

      Nothing would make me more happy then to see someone prosecuted for that fleecing of our tax dollars. Router Gate was simply swept under the rug and all involved are relieved. This should have taken place a long time ago. On another note, are their any honest people in Logan county? If there are, they shoulder-locate as soon as possible.

    • RogerD

      Like your comment, however that's not likely to happen since that involves federal money, not private money.

  • Jim N Charleston

    I'll sleep so much better tonight knowing workers at Arvh Coal were indicted for kickbacks.

    Oh NOW The hollows are safe again.

    Jim N SC

  • Opinion

    There is alot more that goes on than just what you are seeing in the papers , which is why the facility is ran by...brothers , uncles , sons , and neighbor's mabey its time to put the buddy system over there to a close

  • Shadow

    Diogenes would come up empty handed in Southern WV. It's a cultural thing.


    Okay.... I am going to make this statement from a completely neutral standpoint.

    This has little or nothing to do with the corrupt practices of Arch Coal. Rather, it was 10 employees of, and representatives for vendors of, Arch Coal. In the end, the big looser is Arch Coal, because the vendor pricing and invoices would have inherently been inflated to compensate the vendors for the kickbacks. I doubt if Arch's controllers would have approved this type of gross fiduciary irresponsibility. I may be wrong, but that just makes sense.

    Thus, nothing to do with corrupt coal companies and much to do with individual crooks, conspiracy and criminal enterprise in So. WV.

    • Eve Cline

      I beg to differ. Arch Coal and anther Corporation created Patriot Coal to go bankrupt so that left thousands with out Health Insurance. Especially the Retiree and Retiree Disabled. After peaceful protest's which were many we now have BCBS Veba. I can't understand why "The Cradle To The Grave" is not being honored!!!