Don Blankenship, the chief executive of the Massey Energy Company in 2010 when a fire in the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 miners—who should have been charged with murder but was earlier only convicted of a federal misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards—was sentenced by U.S. district judge Irene Berge to one year in prison and fined the maximum of $250,000.
As Blankenship left the courthouse, a few family members of miners who were killed started yelling at him while he and his attorneys spoke with reporters.
“We buried our kid because of you,” said Robert Atkins, whose son Jason died in the explosion. “That’s all I got is a goddamn tombstone.” . . .
The judge described Blankenship’s rise from a meager, single-mother Appalachian household to one of the wealthiest, most influential figures in the region and in the coal industry.
“Instead of being to be able to tout you as a success story, we are here as a result of your part in a dangerous conspiracy,” she said.