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Two sentenced in attempted theft that caused leak

By Staff reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- A federal judge sentenced two Kanawha County men to prison on Tuesday in connection to the 2008 attempted theft of anhydrous ammonia from a coal mine.

The attempted theft on Feb. 28, 2008, caused an emergency situation after the hazardous gas leaked into the air.

U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. sentenced Jason Hudnall, 36, of Malden, to three and a half years in prison. Hudnall pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to steal anhydrous ammonia and negligent release of ammonia into the air, according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

John Wesley Tucker, 48, of Georges Creek, was sentenced to one year in prison and was fined $1,000. Tucker pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to steal anhydrous ammonia.

The two men attempted to steal anhydrous ammonia from Penn-Virginia Resources property near Chelyan to manufacture methamphetamine, according to the release.

Anhydrous ammonia is liquefied gas that is pressurized and frozen to remove it of water. The gas is then used to treat mine wastewaters and is also sought by thieves to make meth, according to the release.

Two other men were sentenced in October for their roles in the attempted theft.

Mitchell Ray Workman, 34, of Chelyan, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempting to steal the gas. Jason Brown, 34, of Malden, pleaded guilty to driving the suspects to and from the mine site. He was sentenced to three years of supervised release with six months on home confinement.

Tucker, Hudnall and Workman used a battery powered saw to cut off a security lock on a 1,000-gallon storage tank, according to the release. The men then cut a theft-prevention valve cover that leaked about 500 gallons of anhydrous ammonia into the air. Kanawha County emergency officials declared a shelter-in-place situation for nearby residents.

Each defendant was ordered to pay $6,850 each for restitution to the victims.

 


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