Hughie Elbert Stover, the chief of security at Massey Energy Company’s Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, was arrested at his home on Monday and charged with making materially false statements to federal officials and obstructing a federal investigation.
The Justice Department announced Monday that the 60-year-old Stover was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for allegedly providing materially false statements to an FBI special agent and a special investigator for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
Stover himself instructed security guards to notify mine personnel whenever inspectors arrived at the mine, according to federal prosecutors. But Stover allegedly falsely told investigators that he would have fired any security guard who provided such advance notice.
The indictment also alleges that Stover instructed a person known to the grand jury to dispose of thousands of pages of security related documents held in the garage of a house known as the “Barracks” near the main security gate at the mine. The indictment said that FBI agents were able to recover the documents
“The conduct charged by the grand jury — obstruction of justice and false statements to federal investigators — threatens our effort to find out what happened at Upper Big Branch,” said R. Booth Goodwin, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, in a statement. “With 29 coal miners lost and thousands more waiting for answers about what caused the disaster, this inquiry is simply too important to tolerate any attempt to hinder it. My office will continue to devote every available resource to this most critical of cases.”