ABINGDON, Va. – A Southwest Virginia coal mine owner and a foreman who previously pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit dust sampling fraud were sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon.
Daniel Tucker, 57, of Russell County, owns D&H Mining and was sentenced to three months in federal prison, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia. Tucker previously paid an $80,000 fine as part of his guilty plea.
Gerald Ball, 39, also of Russell County, is a foreman at the company and was sentenced to three years of probation, the release states.
The coal company, D&H Mining, is on probation for a one-year period, according to the release.
Coal mining operations are required to follow the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s health regulations, which include mandatory dust standards designed to protect miners from developing black lung disease.
Federal inspectors found irregularities in the company’s dust sampling practices, the release states. Officials subsequently discovered inaccurate sampling practices that were part of an effort to avoid requirements to reduce respirable coal dust levels.
“As this case illustrates, the Department of Justice is committed to protecting our nation’s coal miners,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Cullen said in the release. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute unscrupulous owners and operators who jeopardize miners’ wellbeing by cutting corners and putting profits ahead of safety.”
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