BECKLEY, W.Va. — A former security chief convicted of lying to investigators about the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 men at a West Virginia coal mine was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday. Prosecutors said it was one of the stiffest punishments ever handed down in a mine safety case.
Hughie Elbert Stover was convicted of lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy thousands of security-related documents at the Upper Big Branch mine after the worst U.S. coal mine disaster in four decades.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin had sought a 25-year sentence, but he said he wasn't disappointed with the judge's decision.
Stover showed no emotion when the sentence was announced. He will report to prison at a later date.
"Three years is a long time for someone who is 60 to be incarcerated," defense attorney Bill Wilmoth said.