Defense lawyers continued this afternoon to cross examine a prosecution expert about the impact on Massey Energy stock prices of public statements in news reports about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.
Eric Delinsky, one of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s lawyers, quizzed prosecution witness Frank Torchio about the public disclosures that could have played a role in Massey’s stock prices plummeting in the weeks after the UBB explosion.
For example, Delinsky questioned why a National Public Radio report of an FBI criminal probe of UBB prompted a large drop in Massey’s stock, while an announcement by President Barack Obama that he had told the U.S. Department of Justice to assist in the mine explosion probe made no significant change to stock prices.
Along with challenging Torchio’s analysis the line of questions allowed Delinsky to repeatedly state to the jury the idea that “President Obama” had “ordered” a criminal investigation that led Blankenship’s indictment.
Blankenship has argued the case against him was politically motivated.
Delinsky was also trying to convince jurors that information about potential criminal charges – as well as about Massey’s large number of violations – was not really new when NPR reported it. Torchio had described the NPR story as a crucial point that led to a $500 million drop in Massey’s worth.
Torchio said that his fee is $500 per hour and that he’s billed the government $25,000 to $30,000. He said he was contacted by the government to work on the case in June 2014 and did not start working on it until early 2015, after Blankenship was indicted.