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Muhlenberg Co. mine worker guilty of violating safety, health act

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Falsified a safety record

 OWENSBORO –  The Chief of Maintenance at Ken American Resources Paradise #9 Mine located in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, recently pleaded guilty to a federal grand jury indictment, in United States District Court, before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., charging him with violating the Mine Safety and Health Act, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.

“Falsifying a record jeopardizes the safety of mine workers and is a crime,” stated U.S. Attorney Kuhn. “Working with the Mine Safety and Health Administration, my Office will investigate and bring charges against those who undermine the safety of the workplace - especially in the coal mines of Kentucky.”

Daniel L. Couch, Jr. entered a guilty plea on July 13, 2017, and remains on bond until sentencing scheduled before Chief Judge McKinley on September 17, 2017, in Owensboro.

According to the indictment, Couch, whose job it was to make a weekly inspection of electric equipment, specifically of the belt drive of coal seal 11 at Paradise #9 Mine, did not in fact make the required fire suppression checks for the week of May 1 through 7, in 2016.

On about May 17, 2016, an Inspector from the United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety & Health Administration, inspected the record book for fire suppression checks conducted on the belt drives for coal seam 11, which contains seven separate belt drives at seven different locations, and found that no fire suppression checks had occurred for the week of May 1 through 7, 2016.

On or about May 19, 2016, the Inspector returned to Paradise #9 mine and re-examined the record book for inspections for the belt drive for coal seam 11, at which time the book revealed that the belt drives had been examined on May 7, 2016 by “D. Couch,” and that no hazards had been observed.

If convicted at trial, defendant Couch could have been sentenced to a maximum term of five years in prison, pay a monetary fine of up to $250,000 and serve a three year period of supervised release.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ream and is being investigated by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) U.S. Department of Labor.