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Ex-mine official sentenced to 21 months for actions at W.Va. mine where blast killed 29

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former superintendent at a West Virginia mine where 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Gary May received the sentence of 21 months and a $20,000 fine Thursday in federal court in Beckley. May has cooperated with prosecutors in their continuing criminal investigation of the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine.

He admitted to charges that he defrauded the government through actions such as disabling a methane gas monitor and falsifying records.

A plea hearing is set next month for former longtime Massey Energy executive David Hughart, who's accused of two federal conspiracy charges. Hughart's cooperation has been viewed as a sign that authorities may be gathering evidence to target officials further up the Massey hierarchy.

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