Judge won't delay 1st hearing for ex-coal executive charged in deadly 2010 mine blast

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia — A federal judge won't delay the first hearing for an ex-coal baron facing charges in the deadliest U.S. coal mine accident in four decades.

On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort denied Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's request for postponement.

Blankenship is scheduled for a court appearance Thursday afternoon in Beckley.

Blankenship is accused of conspiring to violate safety and health standards at Upper Big Branch Mine in southern West Virginia. The 64-year-old Blankenship faces up to 31 years in prison if convicted.

U.S. District Court Judge Irene C. Berger in Beckley has been assigned the case.

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