Court Coverage

Sep 13, 2012 12:44 PM

Salyersville Man Who Pretended To Be Coal Mine Instructor Gets Three Years In Prison

An eastern Kentucky man who pretended to be a coal mine instructor was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

U.S, District Judge Amul Thapar sentenced 21-year-old Paul Jason Arnett of Salyersville, Ky., on Wednesday for making false statements on a Mine Health Safety Administration (MSHA) form and making false statements to MSHA agents. Judge Thapar imposed a sentence one year above the maximum time recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

According to court documents, Arnett falsely held himself out to be a coal mine instructor that had authority to train and certify new underground coal miners, when in fact he did not have the authority to do so.

In June 2011, Arnett falsely certified on MSHA forms that several individuals from Magoffin, Floyd, and Johnson Counties had completed new miner training under the direction of a certified instructor, and therefore were qualified for employment as miners. In some instances, Arnett met with the prospective coal miners in his truck and filled out their training forms without conducting any training.

MSHA district managers approve coal mine instructors, giving them authority to train and certify individuals as coal miners. Arnett was never approved by MSHA according to his plea agreement.

Additionally, when two MSHA agents questioned him during the investigation, Arnett falsely told them he was Paul Arnett's brother. He even offered to help MSHA agents locate Paul Arnett and bring him to the MSHA office.

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