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8 former Armstrong Coal supervisors, officials accused of lying about mine safety

A grand jury has indicted eight former supervisors and officials of Armstrong Coal, on charges that they lied about mine safety.

The following people were indicted on Wednesday:

-Charley Barber, 63, of Madisonville – former Superintendent of Parkway Mine
-Brian Keith Casebier, 60, of Earlington – former Safety Director of Parkway Mine
-Steve Demoss, 48, of Nortonville – former Assistant Safety Director at Parkway Mine
-Billie Hearld, 41, of Russellville – former Section Foreman at Parkway Mine
-Ron Ivy, 49, of Manitou – former Safety Director at Kronos Mine
-John Ellis Scott, 61, of South Carrollton – former Safety Department employee at Parkway Mine
-Dwight Fulkerson, 40, of Drakesboro – former Section Foreman who performed dust testing at Parkway Mine
-Jeremy Hackney, 45, of White Plains – former Section Foreman who performed dust testing at Parkway Mine

The indictment alleges the eight former employees tried to deceive federal mine regulators about the daily levels of breathable dust at the Parkway Mine in Muhlenberg County and the Kronos Mine in Ohio County.

Breathable dust is the primary cause of “Black Lung” in miners.

The eight officials were charged with making false statements about results of tests required to be conducted every 60 days to protect the dustiest and most dangerous job assignments in a coal mine.

According to the indictment, Armstrong officials removed dust testing devices in the miners' shifts and placed the devices in less dusty or “clean air.” The indictment also claims the officials replaced miners who ran the most dust-causing machines with miners who were not wearing the dust testing devices so that the company would pass tests.

The indictment alleges test results were fabricated and results were even taken on days the mine was shut down or before and after shifts to skew results.

A mine superintendent, according to the indictment, twice mandated a safety official to take whatever action necessary for the company to pass sampling tests.

The Parkway Mine is now closed. The Kronos Mine is under different ownership.

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(This story was originally published July 11, 2018)

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