A convicted former coal company CEO will not have to pay $28 million in restitution for a 2010 mine explosion that killed more than two dozen workers, a federal judge ruled.
Judge Irene Berger ruled late Monday that former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship won't have to pay the current owner of Massey Energy, Alpha Natural Resources, which filed for bankruptcy last summer. It bought Massey shortly after the explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia that killed 29 miners.
A federal court in December placed some of the blame for the explosion on Blankenship, who was convicted of a misdemeanor conspiracy charge for willfully ignoring federal safety regulations.
He is slated to be sentenced on Wednesday. Federal prosecutors have urged the judge to level the maximum sentence on Blankenship, including a $250,000 fine and one year in jail.
Monday's restitution decision means Blankenship won't have to cough up the $13.5 million Alpha Natural Resources spent to investigate the mine explosions, nor will he be on the hook for the over $4 million the company spent to represent mine workers. Not to mention the millions of dollars it had to pay in punitive fines to federal regulators.
The judge decided that the company had absorbed the costs in the first four quarters after buying Massey.