Washington – The former president of a Massey coal mine in West Virginia was charged with conspiracy to violate federal mining safety laws Wednesday, and federal authorities said he is expected to plead guilty in a widening criminal probe that began after a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
David C. Hughart, former president of Massey’s Green Valley Resource Group, was charged in U.S. District Court in Beckley, W.Va., with a felony for allegedly tipping off mine officials in advance of federal safety inspections.
Though Hughart was not charged in the explosion, and actually left the company just weeks before the disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine, the charges and his apparent willingness to cooperate with federal law enforcement agents make him the most senior Massey official to be prosecuted since the explosion, and signals that prosecutors now are turning their attention to even higher targets within the company.
Governor declines health exchange
Phoenix – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has decided against creating a state-run health insurance exchange to implement a key part of President Barack Obama’s federal health care law.
Brewer’s decision announced Wednesday means the federal government will set up an online marketplace for the state, offering subsidized private health coverage to the middle class. The governor reiterated her unwavering opposition to the health care overhaul, and said there were too many costs and questions associated with a state-run exchange.
Brewer joins other Republican governors in such states as Texas and Maine who have balked at creating state-run exchanges, although others in Nevada and New Mexico have opted to proceed.
Scientist’s sons sue government
Washington – The sons of a Cold War scientist who plunged to his death in 1953 several days after unwittingly taking LSD in a CIA mind-control experiment sued the government Wednesday.
They claimed the CIA murdered their father, Frank Olson, by pushing him from a 13th-story window of a hotel – not, as the CIA says, that he jumped to his death.
Sons Eric and Nils Olson of Frederick, Md., sought unspecified compensatory damages in the lawsuit filed in federal court, but their lawyer, Scott D. Gilbert, said they also want to see a broad range of documents related to Olson’s death.