"Sentencing in this case serves as a sober reminder of the important role training plays in keeping the nation's miners safe and healthy," said Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA.
Ted Pile, a media spokesman for Alpha, did not respond to a request for comment about Dawson's sentencing.
During a speech Thursday morning to West Virginia Coal Association members, Alpha senior vice president Mark Schuerger said his company has focused on safety training and practices, especially since its purchase of Massey.
But Schuerger focused his talk to the association's annual symposium on other challenges facing the mining industry, from increased reliance on natural gas to President Obama's "ill-conceived regulations" to tighten air pollution from coal-fired power plants and a mountaintop removal mining "permitorium."
"His promise of change four years ago certainly has come at coal's expense, and continues to," Schuerger said.
In the Dawson case, the law allowed a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended a range of between 12 and 18 months in jail.
Dawson's defense lawyer asked for a lesser sentence, noting that Dawson is in poor health, and that his doctor has said he could have a fatal heart attack at any time. Also, the defense lawyer argued, Dawson was at the time of his offense concerned about his son's drug problems. The son died five months later from a drug overdose, court records said.
Within the last year, Dawson is the second person connected to Alpha to be sentenced after pleading guilty to criminal mine safety violations. In June 2011, Chad Ferrell of Nettie was sentenced to serve five years of probation, including one year of home confinement. Ferrell worked for Brooks Run's Poplar Ridge No. 1 Deep Mine in Webster County after admitting that he lied about having mine foreman's credentials.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.