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Blankenship bond lowered, travel limit lifted

Register-Herald file photo by Tyler Evert for The AP In this Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, file photo, Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship makes his way out of the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, W.Va., during a break in deliberations
Register-Herald file photo by Tyler Evert for The AP
In this Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, file photo, Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship makes his way out of the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, W.Va., during a break in deliberations

BECKLEY, W.Va. — A federal magistrate granted Don Blankenship’s motion for loosened bond restrictions — the former Massey Energy CEO’s bond was lowered from $5 million to $1 million, he is now allowed to travel freely within the U.S. and he may reside at his home in Las Vegas.

Blankenship is also now allowed contact with Massey employees as well as anyone who participated in the investigation at Upper Big Branch, where an explosion took the lives of 29 miners on April 5, 2010.

 Blankenship’s attorneys filed the motion asking for a bond modification Dec. 8, five days after a jury found him guilty of conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards, a misdemeanor.

After being acquitted of all felony charges, Blankenship was released on his previous bond conditions, which included a $5 million cash bond, required him to live at his West Virginia residence, restricted his travel to the Southern District of West Virginia, Pike County, Ky., and Washington, D.C., and prohibited him from having direct or indirect contact with Massey employees or anyone who participated in the UBB investigation.

His attorneys asked that his bond be lowered to $250,000 and that all residency, travel and personal contact restrictions be lifted. They argued Blankenship is not a flight risk, nor does he pose a danger to anyone in the community pending sentencing, which is scheduled for April 6 in Charleston.

Prosecutors countered that although Blankenship’s maximum prison sentence is not more than one year, the possible monetary sanctions he faces are not so restricted — they could reach “tens of millions…

 

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