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Judge tosses out charges against Wise coal company, foreman

December 17th, 2013 6:47 pm by Staff report

Judge tosses out charges against Wise coal company, foreman

ABINGDON — A U.S. District Court judge dismissed all criminal charges Tuesday brought by the federal government against a Wise County-based coal mining company and a mine foreman.

Judge James P. Jones threw out a total of 13 charges — including 12 felonies and one misdemeanor — that were returned by a federal grand jury earlier this year against Hills Coal Company of Appalachia and foreman David Grigsby.

The charges stemmed from a case brought by the United States Attorney’s Office in Abingdon on behalf of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Federal prosecutors accused the company of “willfully and knowingly violating federal mine safety laws.”

The charges involved an unguarded return roller on a conveyor belt system.

Jones granted the defense’s motion of acquittal after finding the federal government failed to prove any of the alleged mine safety violations were willful and/or knowing. 

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