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Freedom’s Southern hit with additional charge

Charleston Gazette file photo by Gary Southern Gary Southern has been charged in a second superseding indictment regarding the Freedom Industries chemical spill and resulting bankruptcy.
Charleston Gazette file photo by Gary Southern
Gary Southern has been charged in a second superseding indictment regarding the Freedom Industries chemical spill and resulting bankruptcy.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern has been charged with an additional count of bankruptcy fraud in a new, second superseding indictment made public this week.

Southern now faces a total of 15 criminal charges that carry a maximum statutory penalty of 93 years in prison if convicted on all counts and before federal sentencing guidelines are applied to the case.

The new indictment, handed up by a Beckley grand jury on Tuesday, generally repeats the original Clean Water Act charges related to the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill and the allegations that Southern then tried to safeguard his personal wealth from Freedom’s bankruptcy case and from civil lawsuits filed over the spill.

Southern and another former top Freedom official, Dennis Farrell, are scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court in Charleston starting in early October.

Freedom Industries, the bankrupt corporation, has already agreed to a plea deal with U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, as have four other former Freedom officials, Williaim Tis, Charles Herzing, Michael Burdette and Robert Reynolds.

Farrell and Southern both face charges that they committed three criminal Clean Water Act violations that led to the chemical spill, but Southern faces a dozen additional counts…

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