Blankenship continued to deny his guilt in court Wednesday, but U.S. District Judge Irene Berger told him: "The crime is serious. By putting profitability of the company ahead of the safety of your employees, you, Mr. Blankenship, created a culture of noncompliance at Upper Big Branch where your subordinates accepted and, in fact, encouraged unsafe working conditions in order to reach profitability and production targets.” Federal prosecutors last month told CBS's "60 Minutes" that Blankenship ran the mine like a drug operation.
Blankenship "was granted permission to surrender voluntarily at a prison yet to be identified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when notified to do so by the federal Marshal’s Service," Ward writes. "Berger denied a request from Blankenship to remain free on his current $1 million bail pending a decision by the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on an appeal of his conviction. Defense lawyers asked, and Berger agreed, that Blankenship would not have to report within the next 10 days, so they would have time to ask the Fourth Circuit to allow him to remain free pending a full appeal. Typically, though, it takes more than 10 days for offenders to receive notification about where they will serve their sentences and when they must report to prison." (Read more)