CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Trial has been delayed until late October in the case of the Massey Energy security director charged with lying to federal officials investigating the deaths of 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine.
In an order issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger rescheduled the trial of Hughie Elbert Stover until Oct. 24. It had been set to start on Monday.
Berger cited a request by Stover's defense lawyers and said they had "good cause" for the delay, given the late disclosure by prosecutors of 2,500 pages of discovery materials.
Also pending before Berger are a variety of pre-trial motions, including a request by defense lawyers that any statements Stover made to investigators be declared inadmissible in court and a motion that prosecutors not be able to mention the mine disaster at trial.
Stover, 59, of Clear Fork, faces three felony charges that allege he tried to divert government agents investigating whether Massey officials tried to warn mining operations in advance of impending federal inspections.
Originally, Stover was charged in a two-count indictment alleging that he lied to FBI agents and U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration officials and then tried to destroy thousands of pages of security documents that investigators believed could shed light on how Massey handles inspection warnings.
In May, Stover was charged with a third count, this one alleging that he also lied to MSHA investigators conducting the civil investigation of the disaster.
The original charges concerned statements that FBI and MSHA agents alleged Stover made to them, while the new charge concerns statements made during a formal interview in which he was under oath and his testimony taken down word-for-word by a court reporter.
One other person, Thomas Harrah, 45, of Seth, has been charged and pleaded guilty to faking a foreman's certificate that he used to illegally conduct company safety examinations at Upper Big Branch.
Federal investigators went after Harrah after the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training officials discovered that Harrah used a fake foreman's license when he performed at least 228 pre-shift, on-shift and conveyor belt examinations at Upper Big Branch over a nearly two-year period, from January 2008 to August 2009.
@tag:Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.