Don Blankenship completes sentence, prison term ends Wednesday

Former Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship is a free man after completing his prison term. (WCHS/WVAH)

Former Massey Energy chief executive officer Don Blankenship is now a free man after his prison term ended Wednesday.

Blankenship was convicted on mine safety violations last year. He had recently moved to a halfway house.

In April 2016, Blankenship was sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. He was convicted in December 2015 of a misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards at Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 men in 2010.

The former coal chief's historic trial had 24 days of testimony and 27 witnesses take the stand.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released the following statement concerning Blankenship's release.

“Don Blankenship doesn’t have to answer to me and he doesn’t have to answer to federal authorities anymore, but he does have to answer to the loved ones of the miners who died in his mine for the rest of his life. His refusal to accept responsibility for his criminal actions even now only exacerbates these grieving families’ pain. The families of the fallen 29 brave miners deserve better, so I hope that Mr. Blankenship chooses to do the right thing and disappear from the public eye.”
“In the meantime, I will continue to work every day to ensure that a tragedy like Upper Big Branch never happens again. I introduced legislation that would increase penalties on coal company executives who fail to provide a safe work environment and put the health and lives of our miners at risk. Our miners helped build this nation. They should leave their homes every morning knowing they will return to their families every night. I encourage Congress to take up and pass this commonsense legislation as soon as possible.”
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