Wednesday morning in the United States District Court Western District of Kentucky at Owensboro, six defendants in the USA v. Barber et. al. case entered pleas of not guilty and received a court date of October 3, 2018. This was a result of their July 11 indictment, which charged the administrators from now-bankrupt Armstrong Coal Company with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The indictment outlined that the eight Armstrong administrators “conspired to commit dust fraud by knowingly and willfully altering the company’s required dust-sampling regulations, submitting false samples and by making false statements on dust certification cards.” These regulations are national, mandatory health and safety standards outlined in the Mine Act, passed by Congress in 1977, that protect coal miners from work conditions that could lead to pneumoconiosis, commonly known as “black lung,” and silicosis, two of the most common diseases that affect coal miners.
Steven Demoss, Billie Hearld, Ron Ivey, John E. Scott, Dwight Fulkerson and Jeremy Hackney were all present for the arraignment today and stood to address Judge H. Brent Brennenstuhl. Charley Barber and Brian K. Casebier were arraigned Monday in Bowling Green.
All six men waived their right to hear a formal reading of the indictment and plead not guilty to their charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Judge Brennenstuhl issued a $25,000 unsecured bond with the condition that the defendants could not communicate with other co-defendants or witnesses. Hearld, Ivey, Scott were not represented by an attorney on Wednesday. Judge Brennenstuhl determined Hearld and Scott did not have the financial means to hire their own attorney and will arrange for court-appointed representation.