4 ex-coal mine officials cleared in Kentucky fraud trial

Kentucky
FILE - A coal shovel works at the Midway mine Tuesday, April 14, 2009, in Centertown, Ky. A group of former coal company officials will go on trial in Kentucky next week for allegedly skirting federal rules meant to reduce deadly dust in underground mines. The four men on trial, who worked for now-bankrupt Armstrong Coal, ordered workers at two Kentucky mines to rig dust-monitoring equipment to pass air quality tests, federal prosecutors said. (AP Photo/ Daniel R. Patmore)

FILE – A coal shovel works at the Midway mine Tuesday, April 14, 2009, in Centertown, Ky. A group of former coal company officials will go on trial in Kentucky next week for allegedly skirting federal rules meant to reduce deadly dust in underground mines. The four men on trial, who worked for now-bankrupt Armstrong Coal, ordered workers at two Kentucky mines to rig dust-monitoring equipment to pass air quality tests, federal prosecutors said. (AP Photo/ Daniel R. Patmore)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal jury has cleared four former coal company officials who were accused of skirting dust rules in two underground Kentucky mines.

The federal jury in Louisville deliberated Wednesday for about two hours. All four men were found not guilty. The trial was a rare attempt to prosecute coal company officials on criminal charges.

Defense attorneys had argued that prosecutors lacked evidence that the men conspired to cheat the rules. The company, Armstrong Coal, went bankrupt in 2017.

Nine people were originally charged in the case, but five reached plea agreements with prosecutors to avoid felony charges.

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