Feds: Upper Big Branch sentencing can send message

February 15, 2012 - 9:35 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Prosecutors want to make an example of a former security chief at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine who was convicted of lying to investigators after the worst mine disaster in four decades.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin says Hughie Elbert Stover deserves the maximum possible sentence of 25 years in prison. Goodwin says Stover's actions contributed to the 2010 disaster that killed 29 men.

In a sentencing recommendation reported by the Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/z3Vdsm), Goodwin says U.S. District Judge Irene Berger could send a message that the federal government cares about mine safety crimes.

He says a tough sentence would deter bad conduct for an industry that's closely watching the outcome.

But defense attorney Bill Wilmoth says the 60-year-old Stover deserves no jail time. He wants probation or home confinement.