Forgery gets ex-employee probation

A FORMER chief engineer of Murray Energy’s Maple Creek Mining in Washington County, Pennsylvania, has been given 18 months probation after he pleaded guilty to committing forgery as well as tampering with the public records.

Donna Schmidt

Philip Handte, 47, of St Clairsville, Ohio, was charged in Washington County Court with backdating certified mail receipts for its mining permit applications before going to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in February of last year.

While receipts reflected the notification of 14 nearby residents that the UMCO High Quality mine would begin work under their land within the required time, it was later discovered that the date the letters were actually sent did not match the date given in the permit application.

Handte, an employee of Maple Creek Mining at the time, was subsequently fired.

The DEP halted a portion of High Quality mine’s production when the infraction was realised, and while it later recommenced, operations were again halted in November of last year – and remain so today, idling 500 workers, while the company fights a ruling by the DEP that prohibits the company from mining a panel near a stream.