Coal Tattoo

Judge won’t delay UBB superintendent sentencing

Gary May, left, of Bloomingrose, W.V., former superintendent of Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 workers, walks with his defense attorney, Tim Carrico, at the Beckley Federal Courthouse in Beckley W. Va., Thursday March 29, 2012.  (AP Photo/Rick Barbero)

Vicki Smith over at The Associated Press reports this interesting development in the Upper Big Branch criminal investigation:

A judge has denied a motion to delay, so the January sentencing of a former superintendent at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine will go on as planned.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger denied prosecutors’ request for a postponement, saying they’d failed to “state good cause.” In light of the time that’s passed since Gary May pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in March, Berger said she was denying the motion.

As previously reported, May is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17, but U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin sought a four-month delay, saying that May  “continues to provide important cooperation in an ongoing criminal investigation.”  Judge Berger had already twice postponed May’s sentencing after prosecutors said they needed more time to get information from May, who is cooperating with the ongoing investigation as part of a plea deal.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby had argued:

Notable progress has been made in the investigation since this sentencing proceeding was last continued. The further continuance requested here will allow that progress to be extended and will avoid any risk to the investigation from the sentencing proceeding itself.

Judge Berger wasn’t buying it. So now, May will be sentenced on Jan. 17, just one day after Judge Berger holds a Jan. 16 plea hearing for longtime Massey official David Hughart, who is also cooperating with investigators.