Coal Tattoo

DSC_0952 - David Hughart
Former Massey Energy executive David Hughart testified on Thursday, Oct. 15 – Photo by Joel Ebert

A former longtime Massey Energy official testified this afternoon that Don Blankenship pressured him to produce more coal.

David Hughart, who was president of Massey’ Green Valley unit for 15 years, took the stand in U.S. District Court just after the jury returned for lunch in the criminal trial of the former Massey CEO.

“I’ve been pressured to produce coal,” Hughart told jurors. “I would get pressure from Mr. Blankenship and [then Massey vice president] Chris Adkins.”

Hughart testified that he frequently was not able to ensure that the mines he manages were properly rock dusted or ventilated.

“Sometimes we were shorthanded,” Hughart said.

Hughart also testified that he allowed workers to give miners underground advance warning when federal safety inspectors showed up at the mines he managed.

In September 2013, Hughart was sentenced to 42 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, admitted to conspiracy to violate safety standards and conspiracy to thwart MSHA inspectors.

Cross-examined by defense lawyer Blair Brown, Hughart admitted that Massey let him go amid allegations that he stole from the company through kickbacks and other schemes.

Hughart also admitted that he lied to federal agents when questioned about those allegations.