The Chief of Maintenance at Paradise #9 Mine located in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky was recently charged, by Grand Jury Indictment, for falsifying a safety record and lying to federal inspectors about making the fraudulent statement, announced Untied States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
According to the indictment, Daniel L. Couch, Jr., 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.
Couch is further charged with knowingly making a false statement to an inspector of the United States Department of Labor, Mine Safety & Health Administration, by stating that he had been underground, and had made an inspection on the belt drive of coal seam 11 at Paradise #9 Mine on May 7, 2016, when the statement and representation was false, because the defendant had not been underground at the mine on that date, and had not conducted said inspection.
If convicted at trial, Couch could face no more than 5 years in prison. Couch’s whereabouts is unknown.
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.
The indictment of a person by a Grand Jury is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.