Federal Criminal Trial Starts for Mine Security Boss Hughie Elbert Stover in West Virginia Blast

October 24, 2011
Hughie Elbert Stover
Hughie Elbert Stover
(Photo by F. Brian Ferbuson/Beckley, W.Va., Register-Herald)

CBS News on October 24, 2011 released the following:

“Trial starts for mine security boss in W.Va. blast

(AP) BECKLEY, W.Va. — Federal prosecutors said Monday the former security chief at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine where 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion lied to investigators and attempted to destroy related documents in defiance of company orders.

Opening statements were given Monday in U.S. District Court in the trial of Hughie Elbert Stover, 60. It is the first criminal proceeding to come from the nation’s deadliest coal mine explosion in decades.

Stover is accused of lying to federal investigators looking into the explosion. An indictment alleges he sought to conceal that he instructed the mine’s security guards to announce by radio when federal inspectors were on the property.

“Not only did he train his guards to make the announcement, he enforced the policy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Wright told jurors.

Federal law forbids such advance warnings of spot mine safety checks. Stover had told investigators that mine policy barred this illegal practice, and that he would have fired any guard who violated it, the indictment alleges.

Federal prosecutors say Stover also ordered a subordinate to destroy thousands of security-related documents that were kept in barracks on the Upper Big Branch property. Two orders had been issued to company employees after the explosion not to destroy the documents.

Defense attorney William Wilmoth argued the charges were the government’s rush to justice and that Stover is being used as a scapegoat.

Wilmoth said the company had a practice of clearing out old property from the barracks because several years ago the building’s contents were contaminated by sewage.

Among the documents tossed were old computer screens and video-cassette records. Throwing out the security-related documents was simply “a stupid mistake,” Wilmoth said.

After the documents were thrown out, Wilmoth noted “each and every one of these documents were retrieved and the government didn’t lose anything.”

Wilmoth also said the area where the documents were discarded into a trash bin was covered by security cameras and that investigators were in the area at the time.

“If he was trying to do that, why did he involve another person?” Wilmoth told jurors. “Why didn’t he try to do it himself? Do those sound like the kind of things someone would intentionally do if they were trying to obstruct an investigation?”

Among the early witnesses called to testify by the government were Kevin Stricklin, MSHA’s administrator of coal mine safety and health, and Tim Watkins, an MSHA district manager.

Massey is now owned by Abingdon, Va.-based Alpha Natural Resources.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Ex-FBI Agent, Wife Plead Not Guilty in U.S. District Court in Richmond on an Alleged Federal Fraud Case

October 14, 2011

Canadian Business on October 13, 2011 released the following:

“By AP

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former FBI agent and his wife pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges related to a $1.3 million investment-fraud scheme.

John Robert Graves and Sara Turberville Graves of Fredericksburg appeared in U.S. District Court in Richmond. The two are charged with conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and other fraud counts. John Graves also is charged with lying to federal investigators.

U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer set a three-day jury trial that will begin Feb. 7 for the couple, who declined to comment after the hearing.

John Graves, 52, founded the Brook Point Management investment and insurance company in 2003. He and Sara Graves, 44, used Brook Point to sell insurance, perform estate- and tax-planning services, and recruit and advise investment clients, the indictment said.

“In many instances, during the initial meeting with potential clients, John Graves told them he was formerly with the FBI, which reassured the potential clients about investing with him,” prosecutors said in the indictment.

Prosecutors allege that roughly between June 2008 and this past July, the couple misrepresented to about 11 clients the safety of their investments, and how the money would be used. According to the indictment, they used investor funds to purchase real estate in Spotsylvania County, pay credit card bills and dues for their timeshare, along with repaying earlier investors who requested access to their money.

Graves, a former FBI special agent, left the agency in 1999, prosecutors said. The two are free on personal recognizance bond.

The Virginia Financial Securities Fraud Task Force coordinated the investigation. The group is a partnership between criminal investigators and civil regulators to pursue complex financial fraud cases.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.