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Prosecutors: Blankenship won’t reveal assets

Blankenship phone

Photo by Joel Ebert

Late yesterday, federal prosecutors filed their response to a motion by former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to block efforts to force him to pay nearly $28 million in criminal restitution when he’s sentenced early next month. The response brief, which I’ve posted here, is mostly a legal argument over whether restitution applies to the crime Blankenship was convicted of committing.

But if you read it closely, you’ll also notice a pretty interesting little detail:

Defendant has refused to comply with his obligations under 18 U.S.C. § 3664, which requires him to submit to the probation officer a description of his financial resources, including a list of his assets.

Here’s what that section of federal law says:

Each defendant shall prepare and file with the probation officer an affidavit fully describing the financial resources of the defendant, including a complete listing of all assets owned or controlled by the defendant as of the date on which the defendant was arrested, the financial needs and earning ability of the defendant and the defendant’s dependents, and such other information that the court requires relating to such other factors as the court deems appropriate.

In their new court filing, prosecutors say that Blankenship’s refusal to provide these financial details prevents the government “from making a complete argument for restitution” and also prevents the court “from conducting a meaningful and holistic review of restitution claims.” They go on:

Defendant should not be permitted to dictate the procedure of resolving restitution outside of § 3664 and Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by demanding a response from the United States and adjudication from the Court on the restitution issues of his choosing, at his leisure.

Prosecutors say that a separate hearing, held within 90 days of Blankenship’s sentencing — currently scheduled for April 6 — is likely necessary to sort out the restitution issues.