Big Stone Gap coal trucking company, owner pleads guilty to giving advance notice of safety inspections

ABINGDON, VA (WJHL) – A Big Stone Gap, Va. coal trucking company and its owner pleaded guilty to giving advance notice of safety inspections, as well as other violations, in Abingdon, Va. federal court Monday.

According to a news release, Hillis Bresee, 63, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of safety inspections.

Bresee and Bresee Trucking reportedly violated the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act sometime around February 2012 by “giving advance notice of safety inspections and failing to ensure adequate inspections of coal haul tractor trailers, including to the braking systems.”

The maximum statutory penalty for the charge is up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

The company, 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.

Along with the plea agreements, Bresee Trucking also entered into a civil settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, according to the release.

Bresee Trucking and Hillis Bresee agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties, $70,000 in restitution to two former employees and $5,000 in fines as part of the plea agreement and civil settlement.

“Congress enacted the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act to protect our miners. Those who work in this dangerous profession must know their employers will be held to these high safety standards and that when they ignore those rules they will be held accountable,” United States Attorney John P. Fishwick, Jr. said.

Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, added that plea agreement and settlement “demonstrate that the Departments of Labor and Justice continue to work together to help ensure that every miner can go home to his or her family at the end of their shift.”

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Aug. 15 at 10:30 a.m.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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