ABINGDON, Va. – Dustin Fannon and Bryan Bouton were sentenced in United States District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, this week for falsifying a Mine Safety and Health Administration [MSHA] training form designed to reflect mandated annual safety training for miners. Bouton also was sentenced for lying to MSHA special investigators about his role in falsifying the official training document.
Bouton, 35, of Wise County, was sentenced to three months in prison for his role in creating the false training document and for lying about it when he was interviewed by special investigators.
Fannon, 35, of Wise County, Virginia, was sentenced today to four months’ home detention for submitting a falsified MSHA training form showing he had received training that he had not attended or received.
“The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the safety of our country’s miners,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “Working with our partners at the MSHA and the Department of Labor, we will continue to investigate and prosecute those who put coal miners in harm by ignoring critical health and safety training measures.”
“Without adequate training, miners pose a risk to themselves and others,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis. “Mine operators and MSHA work hard to ensure every miner receives the training needed to keep them safe and to ensure safety throughout the mines. Preventing falsification of training documents is critical to ensure the health and safety of the mining industry’s most precious resource: the miner.”
“Falsifying Mine Act records is a crime,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda. “As this case shows, the Department of Labor will not hesitate to use all of the tools in our toolbox to protect miners, including working with the Department of Justice to seek criminal penalties where appropriate.”
In August 2016, Fannon attempted to apply for a position with a mining company that required him to show that he had received annual MSHA safety training. Fannon had not. Instead, he submitted a falsified form, signed by a known provider of the MSHA-required training. After his falsification was discovered, Fannon admitted he had not received the training but had been given the form by Bouton, who Fannon witnessed filling out the form and forging the name of the authorized trainer. Bouton, when interviewed about the incident, lied about his involvement to federal special investigators.
MSHA requires every miner receive at least eight hours of safety training every year on a variety of topics, including MSHA’s mandatory health and safety standards, transportation controls and communications systems, barricading, roof or ground control, ventilation, emergency evacuation and firefighting plans, first aid, electrical hazards, prevention of accidents, self-rescue and respiratory devices, explosives, mine gases, and health.
The investigation of the case was conducted by the Norton Office of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Jason Grover from the Department of Labor prosecuted the case for the United States.