Friday, October 23, 2015

Key witness continues testimony against ex-coal CEO boss

(AP) — A key government witness continued testifying that his old boss, ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, was a micromanager who prioritized profits over safety leading up to a deadly 2010 mine explosion.

Ex-Performance Coal President Christopher Blanchard returned to the stand Friday in Charleston. Performance Coal was the Massey subsidiary overseeing Upper Big Branch Mine.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety at Upper Big Branch, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

Blanchard has an immunity agreement with the government. Several Massey officials have been convicted in a wider investigation.

Prosecutors played phone calls where Blankenship even criticized how Blanchard held his phone, and pushed him to squeeze out a few million more dollars, without mentioning safety problems.