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Blankenship conviction stands; U.S. Supreme Court opts not to take up appeal

WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship who served a year in prison for conspiring to violate mandatory mine safety laws at the Upper Big Branch Mine in the months before the deadly 2010 explosion.

On Tuesday, the Court declined to take up Blankenship’s case which means his December 2015 conviction on a misdemeanor conspiracy charge will stand.

Don Blankenship

His attorneys were attempting to appeal a January decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the conviction.

Blankenship’s conviction was for operations at the UBB Mine in Raleigh County, how the mine was run, prior to the massive explosion that killed 29 coal miners.

“I am not guilty of a crime,” he has maintained.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Blankenship said he was not surprised at the Court’s decision.

“Our Court system is so tangled up trying to decide whether illegal is illegal and whether males can use female public restrooms that they have no time to concern themselves with whether American citizens have received a fair trial. The judicial system is broken top to bottom and it’s not fixable,” Blankenship said.

In May 2016, Blankenship reported to prison as ordered and completed his sentence which was largely served in Taft Federal Prison in Taft, California this past May.

Since his release, Blankenship has been active on Twitter in his criticisms of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s UBB investigation. Blankenship has blamed an inundation of natural gas combined with poor ventilation for the explosion.

Investigators at the state and federal levels along with independent investigators determined the UBB explosion, the worst coal mine disaster since 1970, was caused by a spark at the mine face on Apr. 5, 2010 that was fueled by massive amounts of coal dust and methane.

Flagrant safety violations were a major factor, those investigators said.

Blankenship said the wrong he has suffered “pales in comparison to the wrong done to the deceased coal miners and their families. My focus has and will remain on exposing Obama’s deadliest coverup.”

United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts applauded the Supreme Court’s decision:

“It’s instructive to look at the record. First, Don’s whack-job theory of what happened at the UBB mine has been deemed false by two state investigations, one federal investigation and one done by the UMWA.

“Second, he has been convicted in federal court of setting up a scheme to circumvent federal mine safety and health law. His appeals have been denied at every judicial level, including now by the Supreme Court. He served an all-too-short sentence in a federal penitentiary for his crime. He is a convict, and he will always be one.

“No one believes his story about UBB because it is simply not true, even though he continues to pollute the airwaves in West Virginia with his ridiculous claims. It’s time for him to go back to Las Vegas and allow the families of those killed under his watch at Massey to live their lives free from his miserable attempts to blame others for his own misdeeds,” Roberts said.

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