MADISONVILLE, KY (WFIE) - U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman announced an update on the Armstrong Coal Case.
A press conference was held at the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration Office in Madisonville.
As we reported in July, eight former employees of Armstrong Coal were indicted by a grand jury. They are accused of lying about miner safety.
Officials say Charley Barber, Brian Keith Casebier, Steve Demoss, Billie Hearld, Ron Ivy, John Ellis Scott, Dwight Fulkerson and Jeremy Hackney, conspired to commit dust fraud by altering the company’s required dust sampling procedures.
Miners say they developed black lung because of the disregard for safety.
Michael Steve Wilson says he worked underground for more than 44 years. Six and half years, he says, were spent working for Armstrong coal company Parkway mine.
He tells 14 News he now has black lung in both lungs.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do. It was too late to do anything about it then so I just deal with it now,” Wilson explained.
Once black lung develops, it cannot be reversed. Black lung is preventable, yet the indictment alleges between 2005-2014, more than 4,800 U.S. miners died because of black lung.
Wednesday, Coleman announced an additional indictment. Glendal “Buddy” Hardison is now added to the list of defendants. He says Hardison was senior level manager.
Coleman showed the device worn by miners to measure the level of dust that they are breathing in. He says there were several ways to manipulate the device, including removing it while miners were in the dustiest parts of the mine.
He says those indicted include supervisors and safety directors.
Coleman says this is still an open investigation.
Armstrong coal was fined $150,000 dollars from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, but it’s unclear how the company’s bankruptcy protection will play a role.
Company assets were transferred to another company.
Hardison is expected to be arraigned. The trial date is set for July 19 in U.S. district court in Owensboro.