Ex-West Virginia Miners Sentenced for Falsifying Documents

June 23, 2011

Three former West Virginia coal miners have been sentenced this week for lying about their credentials to perform pre-shift safety inspections underground.

In Huntington, U.S. District Judge Chuck Chambers sentenced 31-year-old Neil Hasen of Alkol to three years of probation on Tuesday.

Hasen worked at Big River Mining’s Broad Run Mine in Mason County. He pleaded guilty in March to using another worker’s identification number on inspection forms at least two dozen times because he wasn’t qualified or certified to do conduct the examinations.

In Elkins, meanwhile, Chief Judge John Preston Bailey ordered 49-year-old Luke Pugh of Jane Lew to serve a year in prison and three years on supervised release for a similar offense. He sentenced 40-year-old Chad Ferrell of Nettie to five years of probation, including one year of home detention.

Both men had pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements in federal Mine Safety and Health Administration records.

Pugh worked for Carter Roag Coal Co. at the Pleasant Hill Mine in Randolph County. As part of his plea, Pugh acknowledged lying about his credentials on 387 occasions from June 2007 through April 2009.

His mining certificate has been suspended. Pugh is free on bond and will report to a federal facility later.

Ferrell worked for Brooks Run Mining Company at the Poplar Ridge Number 1 Deep Mine in Webster County. He permanently surrendered his underground coal miner’s certificate in a disciplinary proceeding with the state mine office.

Ferrell acknowledged lying about his credentials 489 times between September 2008 and June 2009.

“It’s a shame that the defendants in this matter elected to take shortcuts in order to help themselves while at the same time putting their fellow miners at risk,” said U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld.

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