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Breesee trucking company and owner plead guilty, agreed to pay $375,000

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ABINGDON (WSLS 10) - A Big Stone Gap coal trucking company and its owner pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to violating the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act by providing advance notice of safety inspections and other violations.

Hillis Bresee, 63, of Big Stone Gap, pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of safety inspections. The maximum penalty is up to one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000.

Bresee Trucking also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the willful violation of the mandatory mine safety health or safety standard by providing advance notice of inspections and one count of willfully violating mine safety health or safety standards.

In conjunction with the plea agreements, Bresee Trucking entered a civil settlement with the United States Department of Labor. Bresee Trucking and Hillis Bresee agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties, a total of $70,000 in restitution to two former employees of the company and fines of $5,000.

"Congress enacted the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act to protect our miners. Those who work in this dangerous profession must know their employers will be held to these high safety standards and that when they ignore those rules they will be held accountable," United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. said.

"This plea agreement and civil settlement demonstrates ttat the Departments of Labor and Justice continue to work together to help ensure that every miner can go home to his or her family at the end of their shift," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health.

Willis Bresee and Bresee Trucking, violated the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, in approximately February 2012, by giving advance notice of safety inspections and failing to ensure adequate inspections of coal haul tractor trailers, including to the braking systems. United States Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent accepted the guilty plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for August 15, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.