A federal judge on Thursday modified the terms of Don Blankenship’s supervised release as part of the former Massey Energy CEO’s request that the monitoring of his release be transferred to federal officials in Las Vegas, where Blankenship has said he now lives.
U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger agreed to the change in the terms of his supervised release -- adding the ability for searches of his home without a warrant -- as requested by the U.S. Probation Officer in Nevada, according to a court filing in federal court in Charleston.
Blankenship is serving one year of supervised release after spending the previous year in prison following his conviction for conspiring to violate federal mine safety and health standards at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in an April 2010 explosion.
Blankenship, a Mingo County native who turned 67 in March, said before his incarceration that he was living in Las Vegas with his fiancée.
Supervised release is a preliminary period of freedom, with government oversight, for recently released offenders
Thursday’s court filing indicated that Blankenship had originally requested in May 2016, shortly after he reported to a California prison, that a “relocation request” to U.S. District Court of Nevada be approved.
Probation officials in Nevada asked that Blankenship agree to a modification of his release conditions as part of that relocation.
That modification states that Blankenship would “submit your person, property, residence, place of business and vehicle under your control to a search, conducted by the United States Probation Officer or any authorized person under the immediate and personal supervision of the probation officer, at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner, based upon reasonable suspicion of contraband or evidence of a violation of a condition of supervision.” The condition says that, “Failure to submit to a search may be grounds for revocation” and that Blankenship “shall inform any other residents that the premises may be subject to a search pursuant to this condition.”
Blankenship agreed to the condition in July 2016, and a senior probation officer signed off on it in August 2016. Berger signed the order approving the change on Thursday, and the paperwork on the matter was added to the public files on Blankenship’s criminal case.
Blankenship’s original supervised release order from the federal court in Charleston did not contain the same sort of language about a search.
Blankenship has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn his criminal conviction. The Trump administration has twice gotten more time to write its response to Blankenship’s Supreme Court petition. The government response is now due on Aug. 25.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.