CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Four Massey Energy foremen were charged Thursday with criminal mine safety violations in a move that federal prosecutors said ends their four-year probe of the fire that killed two workers at the company's Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine in Logan County.
Those charged were Donald R. Hagy Jr., 47, of Gilbert; Terry L. Shadd, 37, of Chapmanville; Edward R. Ellis Jr., 38, of Justice; and Michael A. Plumley, 38, of Delbarton.
All four were charged as corporate agents of Massey's Aracoma Coal Co. subsidiary with failing to conduct required mine evacuation drills at the Aracoma Mine in 2005 and 2006, prior to the fatal January 2006 blaze.
Each was charged with one misdemeanor count through a document called an "information," typically an indication that the defendants are expected to plead guilty and have cooperated with prosecutors.
If convicted, each of the foremen faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine, prosecutors said.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the filing of these charges "concludes the investigation" of the Aracoma fire that killed miners Don Bragg and Ellery Hatfield.
The charges come as prosecutors continue a criminal investigation of the April 5 explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, and on the same day another Massey miner died at White Buck Coal Co. -- a Massey subsidiary that pleaded guilty to a mine safety crime in 2007.
In an unrelated action, federal prosecutors also announced that they had filed felony charges against two surface mine truck drivers for allegedly falsifying training records at the Legacy Resources LLC Synergy Surface Mine No. 1 in Boone County.
John R. Wright, 65, of Whitman, and Jeffrey Potter, 44, of Crum, face maximum sentences of five years in prison and $250,000 fines if they are convicted.
"Coal is vital to this state's economy," Goodwin said in a prepared statement.
"These jobs support and put food on the tables of many hard working West Virginians," Goodwin said. "Workers shouldn't be forced to earn their living in illegal, unsafe conditions. We will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to hold accountable those who willfully violate safety standards in the workplace."