The delay in May's sentencing puts that matter on a similar timeline to the delay Berger ordered in a civil case filed by former Massey shareholders who say the company lied to them about its safety record.
In July, when prosecutors asked Berger to force that delay in the civil case, they said the criminal investigation of the mine disaster "is in a critical period, developing valuable information that became available only recently."
So far, May is the third person to be charged in the federal criminal investigation at Upper Big Branch.
Thomas Harrah, a former miner at the site, was sentenced to 10 months in jail after he admitted to faking a foreman's license when he performed key mine safety examinations at the mine between January 2008 and August 2009 and then lying to investigators about his actions.
Former Massey Energy security director Hughie Elbert Stover is appealing a three-year jail sentence he received after being convicted of lying to investigators and trying to destroy evidence about Massey's practice of warning underground workers of impending government inspections.
In December, Goodwin and his team secured a $209.5 million settlement with Alpha Natural Resources, which acquired the Upper Big Branch Mine when it bought Massey Energy.
Goodwin agreed not to prosecute the company for any Upper Big Branch criminal liabilities, but required Alpha to spend $80 million during the next two years on mine safety improvements and create a $48 million mine safety research trust fund. Alpha also agreed to pay $46.5 million in restitution to families of the disaster victims and $35 million to resolve pending Massey safety fines, including $10.8 million levied for violations related to the Upper Big Branch explosion.
The settlement with Alpha, however, did not prohibit prosecutors from pursuing charges against any individuals -- including Massey officers, employees or agents -- who played a role in the mine disaster.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.