Coal Exec Sentenced to Prison Over Explosion Blankenship gets 1 year over blast that killed 29 By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Apr 6, 2016 1:18 PM CDT 39 comments Comments Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, left, in a file photo. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley, File) (Newser) – A former coal CEO must go to prison for one year and pay $250,000 for his role in skirting safety rules prior to a mine explosion that killed 29 of his employees. Don Blankenship, who was running Massey Energy at the time of the 2010 blast in West Virginia, received his sentence Wednesday after his conviction on three misdemeanors. Jurors found that he "set up a scheme to circumvent safety standards and tip off workers to surprise inspections to speed up coal production," reports Bloomberg. Jurors, however, cleared him of felony charges that could have resulted in a decades-long sentence. Blankenship is appealing his conviction, but the judge ruled that he won't be allowed free during the appeal. "Instead of being to be able to tout you as a success story, we are here as a result of your part in a dangerous conspiracy," said the judge, per the AP. Blankenship, for his part, praised the men killed in the explosion as "great guys, great coal miners," but he didn't sound very repentant in court. "It is important to everyone that you know that I'm not guilty of a crime," he said.