May 24, 2023 - The former safety manager at an underground coal mine in Montana was sentenced on Tuesday for conspiring to make false reports about a mine accident.
Curtis Floyd of Billings, 47, the former safety manager at Signal Peak Energy LLC was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $2,000 for falsely reporting an employee had his fingers crushed with partial amputation.
The U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana released the following information:
The former safety manager at the Signal Peak Energy LLC underground coal mine near Roundup was sentenced today for conspiring to make false reports about a mine accident in which an employee had his fingers crushed, resulting in partial amputation, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Curtis Floyd, 47, of Billings, was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $2,000. Floyd pleaded guilty in January to an information charging him with conspiracy to submit false statements in mine records.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided.
In a plea agreement reached in the case, the parties agreed that a term of probation was appropriate.
“As Signal Peak Energy’s safety manager, Floyd had a duty to make sure miners were safe and protected and to document and report accidents. Floyd not only failed the miners, but he also flaunted mandatory mine health and safety reporting regulations. We expect mines and their managers to operate in compliance with all regulations, and when they don’t, they will be held accountable,” U.S. Attorney Laslovich said.
“The Mine Safety and Health Administration relies on accurate and timely reporting data to inform our investigations and address safety and health hazards. These reports also help mine operators uphold their legal obligation to keep miners safe and healthy by advising the industry of necessary changes to prevent future incidents. Floyd’s failure to report this data undercuts this system and puts miners at risk. We thank the Department of Justice for its vigorous enforcement of the Mine Act and helping MSHA protect the nation’s miners,” said Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Chris Williamson.
“Protecting the health and safety of our nation’s miners requires a team effort, which starts with mine operators following crucial safety and health laws and regulations. When mine operators violate their obligations or attempt to cheat the system, the Department of Labor will not hesitate to use every available tool to uphold the law, including partnering with other agencies. We are grateful for the Department of Justice’s critical partnership to keep all our nation’s miners safe,” said Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda.
The government alleged in court documents that in 2018, Floyd was the safety manager at the Signal Peak Energy coal mine and was responsible for overseeing safety-related accidents and injuries, ensuring that all such incidents were properly reported as required by federal law. Instead, the government alleged, Floyd went along when management needed an accident covered up. Floyd dropped off injured miners at the hospital instead of escorting them inside or let them go home, knowing they would lie to doctors about how they got hurt, and he let required safety reports disappear instead of making sure the reports were filed.
In early 2018, John Doe 1, a miner, had his fingers crushed while loading mining materials. The injury eventually required partial amputation. As Floyd was taking John Doe 1 to the hospital, Dale Musgrave, the former vice president of underground operations, called the injured miner and directed him to falsely claim that the injury was unrelated to his work. Musgrave told John Doe 1 that he would make it worth his while. Floyd told John Doe 1 he would support whatever decision was made. The injured miner agreed to not report the incident. Floyd and Musgrave were required to complete a U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration Mine Accident, Injury and Illness report, but they never completed or submitted a report for this incident. They also failed to report John Doe 1’s injury on another MSHA quarterly report.
This prosecution was part of a broad corruption investigation into Signal Peak Energy’s management and operations that resulted in criminal misdemeanor convictions of the company for willful violation of health and safety standards and felony convictions of some former mine managers and associates for embezzlement, tax evasion, bank fraud, money laundering, drugs and firearms violations. Musgrave was sentenced to probation and fined $20,000 for his conviction in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin M. Rubich, Zeno B. Baucus and Timothy Tatarka prosecuted the case. The IRS Criminal Investigation, FBI, Department of Labor and Environmental Protection Agency conducted the investigation.