Blankenship pleads not guilty to adjusted charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship pleaded not guilty to a superseding indictment in U.S. District Court in Beckley on Tuesday.

The three-count superseding indictment was a minor alteration of charges Blankenship already faced when he was indicted last November. Last fall’s indictment included four counts but the latest superseding indictment combines two conspiracy charges, which accused Blankenship of engaging in a conspiracy to violate mandatory mine safety and health standards and conspiring to conceal mine safety violations.

Blankenship is also charged with making false statements to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as Massey Energy stockholders, in the aftermath of the company’s Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster, which killed 29 miners in 2010.

Blankenship appeared in court on Tuesday in front Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort, who provided a summary of the charges Blankenship faced before he entered a plea.

Also present was U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin, whom Blankenship has tried to disqualify from the case.

Tuesday’s court appearance marks the first court appearance for Blankenship since a gag order, which prevented participants in the court proceedings from speaking to the media, was lifted. Blankenship and his attorneys, however, did not speak to the media prior to and following the appearance…

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