Don Blankenship


Donald Leon "Don" Blankenship is a retired American business executive.

Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy by gristmagazine


He was Chairman and CEO of the Massey Energy Company โ€” the sixth largest coal company in the United States โ€” from 2000 until his retirement in 2010.

Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams.

Massey Energy Company was a coal extractor in the United States with substantial operations in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia.

Massey Coal's Don Blankenship Shows his Hand by jesthufaxmaam


A federal grand jury indicted Blankenship on November 13, 2014, for conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as securities fraud.

An indictment, in the common law system, is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime.


As a result of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster, in which 29 miners were killed in Raleigh County, West Virginia on April 5, 2010, he faced up to 30 years in prison on several charges including felony conspiracy.

The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster occurred on April 5, 2010 roughly 1,000 feet underground in Raleigh County, West Virginia at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine located in Montcoal.


On March 5, 2015, the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a gag order that had been keeping anyone involved in the case, from talking about the accident.


Blankenship is a financial backer of the Republican party and participant in local and state politics in his home state of West Virginia.


He has frequently spoken out about politics, the environment, unions, and coal production.


Blankenship is featured unflatteringly in Michael Shnayerson's 2008 book Coal River and in Laurence Leamer's 2013 book, The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption.

Michael Beahan Shnayerson is an American journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine.


Blankenship was paid $17.8 million in 2009, the highest in the coal industry.


It was a $6.8 million raise over 2008, and almost double his compensation package in 2007.


Blankenship also received a deferred compensation package valued at $27.2 million in 2009.

Deferred compensation is an arrangement in which a portion of an employee's income is paid out at a later date after which the income was earned.


On December 3, 2010, Blankenship announced that he was retiring as CEO at the end of the year and would be succeeded by Massey President Baxter F. Phillips Jr.


On December 3, 2015, Blankenship was found guilty of one misdemeanor charge of conspiring to wilfully violate mine safety and health standards.


He was acquitted of felony charges for lying about safety procedures in Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine that caused an explosion in 2010 before his retirement.


On December 28, 2015, U.S. Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDevort lowered his bond from $5 million to $1 million, and he was permitted to return to his home in Las Vegas, and travel freely in the U.S.


On April 6, 2016, he was sentenced to 1 year in jail and fined $250,000.


On May 12, 2016, his appeal rejected in federal court, he reported to FCI Taft, in California north of Los Angeles, to begin serving his sentence.


On January 19, 2017, his appeal of his conviction was rejected by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is a federal court located in Richmond, Virginia, with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:


He was released from prison on May 10, 2017.

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