Ex-super pleads guilty in W.Va. mine blast case

By the Associated Press | March 29, 2012 | 10:05 AM EDT

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — The former superintendent of West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge.

Gary May of Bloomingrose, the highest-ranking company official charged in connection with the blast, faces up to five years in prison. Sentencing is set for Aug. 9.

May pleaded guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Irene Berger in Beckley to conspiracy to defraud the federal government. The charge stems from his actions at the former Massey Energy mine where 29 men died on April 5, 2010.

Prosecutors say May disabled a methane monitor, falsified records and manipulated the ventilation system to fool inspectors.