Fmr. Armstrong Coal miners react to federal indictments

WESTERN KENTUCKY (WFIE) - We learned eight former Armstrong Coal officials have been indicted by a grand jury. They're accused of rigging dust monitoring in mines forcing miners to work in conditions that can lead to black lung disease.

Our crew spoke to several former miners, and they say they weren't surprised at all about this.

We heard from former Armstrong Coal dragline electrician Ricky Metheny for the Midway plant in Ohio County.

Metheny had a federal lawsuit against the company a decade ago. Now he's saying, I told you so.

"I was just like a pest that wouldn't go away when we went to federal court," Metheny said. "So you know, they tried to throw me peanuts, but that don't work with Ricky."

In 2008, Armstrong Coal fired Ricky Metheny claiming he had taken part in union activity during work hours.

"Before the shift, I put them in our break trailer, and then, during my lunch break, I put some literature in the prep plant place."

He said he'll never forget that day. It was near Christmas time he learned he lost his job.

"And no more union did they have to ever deal with. From that point on, those guys were totally scared to death. Some of them even avoided me from that point on," Metheny said.

But that's not all. Metheny says the company tried to make him falsify the electrical books.

Now that eight Armstrong Coal employees are facing federal indictments on conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government, Metheny is now hoping this will spark a change in mines across the country.

"When they asked me to omit things in the electrical inspections, it came from the superintendent. What I would say was a decent human being of an electrical boss telling me to start omitting things, but I wouldn't do it."

It should be pointed out that indictments are not convictions. The defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.

Metheny, along with other former miners we spoke to all say they hope justice is served.

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