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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  • 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!!!

  • Jason Mooney

    And if you worked for Mac and you wasn't one of there picks . You was treated differently . Like some Mac employees could miss as many days as they wanted with no excuses,but some miss less days and even have excuses would get in trouble . I thought that was the same thing as discrimination

    • Hahahaha

      You Jason Mooney are the laziest person ever. You wouldn't know work if it knocked on your door. You claim to be disabled but then when "softball season" comes around you hop right on it. If you can run the bases, swing a bat and play in the field, you can work!
      Lazy apparently runs through your veins. Quit worrying about the dope and then you may be able to work but that never going to happen.

  • Richard M. Roche

    I am sadened to hear this , it is just this type of thing that continues to hurt the Coal Industry and West Virginia in general. We have to find away to put this sort of thing behind us for the good of Coal, and the good of West Virginia.

    Let me say however that I doubt very seriously that it stop here , I feel quite certain that this sort of thing goes on in every industry. I would suspect that in this case someone upset the wrong person , "or" someone got just a little to greedy.

    I hope this will offer a lesson to others that may be doing the same thing that they had better clean up their act.

  • Sounds funny

    Sounds similar to the way Congress is ran with the Lobbyist, if you ask me!!
    I agree that this is 100% wrong, but it is almost like the old saying of "the pot calling the kettle black!" "Helllloo, Kettle!!"

    • Harvey

      Well, black is black no matter who does the calling. This is wrong and it is a curse on the industry and a blight on our state. If you want to engage in rhetorical comparisons to justify this misconduct and the industry that tolerates it, well, ok. Frankly, we deserve better and we should express our indignation to the industry as well as the government.

  • Justina

    Glad they got the dishonest folks that give any business a bad name.....BUT one must consider that this could be somewhat political with the current War on Coal!

    • Harvey

      How in the world is bringing a bunch of crooks to ground part of a war on anything except the crooks?

  • Harvey

    Would it be impolite to suggest that if the industry cleaned itself up, stopped the millions of dollars in graft, bank fraud, overweight truck fines, workers compensation cheating and outright thievery that has kept the U S Attorney in this district busy for decades, there might be money around to comply with reasonable regulatory demands for clean water and safety enforcement? Then the operatives who are getting unjustly enriched from this misconduct could afford to employ and protect more of those hardworking, non cheating, God fearing coal miners that they and their Coal Association so loudly claim to love.

    • Eve Cline

      You're right Harvey! Tell it like it is and don't be so polite, you have done well. And I wish that Booth Goodwin would try extremely hard to find the murders that haven't been caught!!!

    • The bookman

      Respectfully, I would submit that you are taking an opportunistic shot at the industry, using this singular event to make a political point. I would suggest that the US Attorney for the Southern District has been busy fighting illicit drug activity and a corrupt and ingrained political structure, not the coal industry.

      • Harvey

        How is being sick of this way of life in the coal fields "making a political point?" Massey safety guys in federal prison. Insurance guys and bankers at Bank of Mingo headed for prison for money laundering related to coal company workers comp fraud. 10 guys associated with Arch signing up to plead guilty to price fixing and bribery. What is political about that except your attitude?

        • The bookman

          The authorities were informed of this corruption by Arch Coal. You may have had a point if that wasn't true, but the fact is the industry requested help with the criminal activity. I see Goodwin's crusade as a battle against the widespread political machine that has given Southern WV the bad name it has earned. Regardless of the story coming out of the region, the common thread is a powerful politician who has exercised his influence for personal gain. As all 10 appear to be cooperating given their plea to an information, I would suggest their are bigger fish on the line. Piling on the industry just smacks of opportunism on your part, and if your the Harvey I think you are, it is beneath you, sir!

          • The bookman

            I think your analysis is correct above. Thanks for the reasoned response, and I think that we do see things in a similar light as to the problems and solutions in Southern WV. Have a good weekend, sir!

          • Harvey

            We can agree on a lot. The domination of this region by one party of regressive, self interested politicians needs to end. Just ending the regime will not help, however, unless it is replaced by folks who will value human interests on at least equal footing with industry concerns. The sad story here is the harm done to these businessmen who were corrupted by the need to pay to play to make a living. Arch is, of course, to be complimented on initiating this investigation. The sad story is that all of this rottenness has to be addressed in the U S Attorney's office because of lack of will by local authorities. In fact, Bookman, you seem like a smart guy and I suspect you and I agree on a lot more than you think. This is not an indictment of free market capitalism. It is an indictment of a corrupt system and entitlement mentality.

  • GregG

    Nothing to see here folks, just your typical everyday dealings of Big Business!! Capitalism, free market......and all those other pretty terms so many like to toss around.

    • Aaron

      As you do not favor capitalism Greg, what model of economic activity would you like to see the United States convert to?

    • The bookman

      It's corruption, not capitalism. This was a pay to play scheme, a mechanism to suppress the free market and shortcut its inherent competitive pressures. I also see it as indicative of the closed culture of corruption pervasive in the southern coal region of WV. Kudos to Goodwin, and the other law enforcement agencies who continue to root out crime and corruption in the Southern District.

      • reality check

        exactly. every type of economic system sees corruption. it happened in Nazi German, the Soviet Union, and countless other communist and socialist countries. stupid to cry about the evils of capitalism in the face of this. this is about crooks who thankfully got caught.

        • GregG

          Sorry reality and bookman, I'm sticking with my "typical" big business theory.

          • GregG

            I embrace it is defined. But capitalism, just like the Bible and the Constitution, always seems to be defined slantingly to benefit, support the beliefs of, or increase the profits of only the group, party or business that seeks to reap the most. You have a great weekend also bookman.

          • The bookman

            That's ok GregG. I know it'll take a lot more than a short paragraph to get you to embrace the positive impacts on society of capitalism. I know it isn't perfect, and there are many examples of the negative impacts of our economic model, but it is better than any other system, bar none. Have a good weekend!

  • reality check

    looks like there are some new job openings....

  • Anti Coal

    Glad to see the crooks of coal go down. Shut them all down.

    • Coal for power

      Idiot!!! We need coal to have power. Natural gas, wind mills, and water currents are not going to power the whole country. Coal is not the problem, it's that dumb ass president we got.

    • Wow!

      I agree! Shut your lights off. Seeing how you are anti-coal, I hope you have a wind turbine or something powering your home. I hope you are anti-gun as well. Seeing how call is also used to make artillery... I'd hate for you to be using ANYHING that has to deal with coal!!
      Steam coal - also known as thermal coal - is mainly used in power generation. Coking coal - also known as metallurgical coal - is mainly used in steel production.
      Coal is used for more things the. What's realized! significant uses of coal are in electricity generation, steel production, cement manufacture.
      Activated carbon - used in filters for water and air purification and in kidney dialysis machines.
      Carbon fibre - an extremely strong but light weight reinforcement material used in construction, mountain bikes and tennis rackets.
      Silicon metal - used to produce silicones and silanes, which are in turn used to make lubricants, water repellents, resins, cosmetics, hair shampoos and toothpastes.
      And my goodness!! I really hope you don't use any products that may have ammonia or coal tar in them. I SWEAR I WOULD HATE FOR YOU TO USE ANYTHING TO DEAL WITH COAL!!
      Go find a tree and hug it as tightly as you can, then politely ask it if it could keep your lights on. And if you're super nice while it's still standing there it may just be nice enough to wrap it's branches around you and keep you warm in the winter. But WHATEVER you do, you can't cut it down....

      PRO COAL!! 110%

    • Disgusted coal miner

      Maybe we should all just not dig coal for a lil bit, then see how much y'all anti coal people appreacieate us after your life as you know it takes a complete change, everyone has an opinion jus sayin

    • Kim

      Shut your lights off

  • Mason County Contrarian

    Quick! Someone cue an old, wrinkled industry parrot!
    "War on coal!"
    "War on coal!"

    • 1olewvufan

      I hate to inform WV, but the "War On Coal" is over and you lost. It is time to move on and bring new industry to WV. If you don't believe the 'war on coal' tour McDowell and Mercer Counties.

      The 'War on Coal' started in 1960, and by the mid 1980s most of the coal mining had been moved elsewhere. McDowell County was KING of COAL, when coal that had a high methane content was in demand. Due to the sulfur content of this coal, it was abandoned for coal closer to the surface that had a lower sulfur content. WV was then stripped, and its hillside ravaged.

      While the UMWA was working to get more and better benefits for the miners, they failed to secure the coal industry of WV. Legislators, politicians, and coal companies set by and did nothing to shore up the industry. Today, McDowell County is the poorest county in the nation.

      Since the mid 1980, WV has created a New Brand for itself, but it has failed to label itself with new industry to provide jobs. The population of WV is nowhere near what it was in its heyday. WV has less U.S. Congressmen now than it did in the 1950s. McDowell County has went from 5-high schools to two.

      In 1960, U.S. Steel and Pocahontas Fuel shut down most of its operations. A few months after the shut downs, Pocahontas Fuel reopened many of its mines only to shut them down again. In 1962, these mines were reopened by their new owner Consolidation Coal Company (CONSOL), and by the mid 1980s all these mines were again shut down, and closed for good.

      I have been hearing War on Coal for eons, and guys its over. I know for I was born and raised in a McDowell County Coal Camp, and I remember going to the slate dump to search for coal to bring home to fire our furnace. I also spent 12-years in the coal mines, and was a fireboss for 8.5 years. Where I grew up in McDowell County in the 1950s, was on the face of Life Magazine. Today, it is a ghost town. in the 1950s, over 5000 people lived here, and today the population is around a 100 or so.

      What WV needs to do is for get the War on Coal, and find new industry to bring back the 1000s of jobs it lost when it lost the War on Coal.

      • Beckie

        Absolutely a correct commentary on the coal thing. I agree with you 100%. Yes, whenever I hear how great the coal industry is/was for WV, I think of how coal served those in McDowell County, the absolute poorest county in the US! Bless you.

    • ViennaGuy

      It's a war on corruption. Coal is just the backdrop. It could just as easily be another industry.

      • Eve Cline

        I agree Vienna guy
        Why is everyone using an Alias?

      • Eve Cline