Upper Big Branch Security Chief Convicted on Two Felony Counts Related to the UBB Mine Investigation
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 26, 2011|
BECKLEY, WV—A federal jury sitting in Beckley today convicted former Upper Big Branch Mine chief of security Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, of Clear Fork, Raleigh County, West Virginia, on two felony counts in connection with the federal investigation at Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch Mine (UBB) announced U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II. Stover was the chief of security at UBB and at least two other Massey operations at the time of the disaster. The defendant was found guilty today on both counts of making false statements to federal agents and obstructing a federal investigation.
“Today’s verdict sends a clear message that when a person obstructs an investigation—especially an investigation as important as this one—there will be consequences,” said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
Stover made materially false statements to an FBI Special Agent and a Special Investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). These federal agents were investigating allegations that security guards at UBB routinely notified mine personnel when MHSA inspectors arrived at the mine. Stover falsely denied that such a practice existed and falsely told the agents that he would have fired any security guard who provided such advance notice. In addition, Stover himself instructed UBB security guards to notify mine personnel whenever MSHA inspectors arrived at the mine. The defendant also caused a person known to the grand jury to dispose of thousands of pages of security-related documents stored in a Massey building near the UBB mine, with the intent to impede the federal investigation.
Stover is scheduled to be sentenced on February 29, 2012, in Beckley, W.Va.
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from MSHA Special Investigators detailed to the criminal probe. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Blaire Malkin, Philip Wright and Larry Ellis.