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Ohio County miner indicted on 29 counts of falsifying safety records

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A coal miner who claimed to be foreman but wasn't has been charged with falsifying safety records at an Ohio County coal mine.

U.S. Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld II said Sean A. Chase, 31, of Spencer was indicted by a federal grand jury in Wheeling on 29 counts of making false representations and certifications in mine safety records.

The government alleges that while Chase was working at the Tunnel Ridge Mine he represented himself as a mine foreman qualified to perform mine safety exams when in fact he holds no such certification. Chase also is charged with making false statements to a federal agent, and claiming that he took the mine foreman examination and was issued a foreman card and foreman number.

The matter came to the attention of law enforcement when the certification numbers all foremen at Tunnel Ridge were submitted and reviewed for the purpose of continuing education requirements. It is alleged that the certification number submitted for Chase had never actually been issued by the West Virginia Office of Mine, Health, Safety and Training, prompting an investigation.

If he's convicted, Chase faces up to five years in prison on each of the 30 charges plus a fine of up to $10,000.

The matter was investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the West Virginia Office of Mine, Health, Safety and Training. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Perri.