Former Miner Jailed for False Statements
A former miner at the Upper Big Branch Mine has been sentenced to 10 months’ jail for using a false certification number to conduct numerous safety examinations and then lying to investigators.
Thomas Harrah, 45, of Boone County, WV, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators and on a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) document during an earlier court appearance in April, 2011.
Harrah, who failed the assistant mine foreman’s exam in 2007, used a fake foreman’s certification number on at least 200 occasions between 2008 and 2009. He also admitted to lying about his certification when questioned by MSHA and the FBI.
Harrah was ordered to serve three years of supervised release after his jail term ends.
Although he wasn’t working at the Upper Big Branch mine during a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, his arrest came as a result of an intensive investigation into the tragic blast.