Ex-Miner Charged

WHEELING – Federal prosecutors charged a former worker at the Tunnel Ridge Mine in Ohio County of making 29 false representations and certifications in safety records at the facility.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II’s office alleges 31-year-old Sean Chase, now of Spencer, W.Va., falsified the documents at the Ohio County mine from March 1, 2012 to March 1, 2013. Prosecutors believe Chase was not certified as a mine foreman by either the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration or the West Virginia Office of Mine Health, Safety and Training during this time.

Chase faces up to five years in prison on each of the charges and a fine of up to $10,000.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Brendan Leary said the U.S. District Court assigned him to represent Chase.

“The court will schedule an arraignment,” Leary said, adding he was not sure when this would occur.

Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners is the parent company of the Tunnel Ridge Mine. Alliance Chief Financial Officer Brian Cantrell said company officials do not believe they will face liability in the case.

“When we became aware that Mr. Chase did not have a foreman’s card, we fired him,” Cantrell said. “We endeavor to hire qualified people and to comply with all laws and regulations.”