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Ex-mine official sentenced in W.Va. blast case

Jan. 17, 2013 @ 11:46 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former superintendent at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners died in an explosion has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Gary May was sentenced to 21 months and fined $20,000 Thursday in federal court in Beckley.

May has cooperated with prosecutors in their continuing criminal investigation of the 2010 explosion.

He admitted to charges he defrauded the government through his actions at the mine. Those included disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.    

A plea hearing is set next month for former longtime Massey Energy executive David Hughart, who’s accused of two federal conspiracy charges. Hughart’s cooperation has been viewed as a sign that authorities may be gathering evidence to target officials further up the Massey hierarchy.