Virginia coal hauler pleads guilty to violating mine safety act

By Land Line staff | Wednesday, June 01, 2016

The owner of a Virginia-based coal hauling company has pleaded guilty to violating the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act by providing advance notice of safety inspections.

Hillis Bresee, 63, of Big Stone Gap, Va., entered a guilty plea in a Virginia federal courthouse on Tuesday, May 31, to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard. He faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

According to court documents, on or about February 2012, Hillis Bresee and his company, Bresee Trucking, through its agents provided advance notice of safety inspections on mobile equipment, including coal haul tractor-trailers, in violation of the Mine Safety act.

A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 15 in U.S. District Court of Virginia in Abingdon.

Bresee Trucking also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of inspections and one count of willfully violating mine safety health or safety standards by failing to ensure adequate inspections of coal-hauling tractor-trailers.

According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the plea agreements, Bresee Trucking entered into a civil settlement with the United States Department of Labor. As part of the plea agreement and civil settlement, Bresee Trucking and Hillis Bresee agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties, a total of $70,000 in restitution to two former employees of the company, and fines of $5,000.

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