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Ex-Signal Peak mine safety director pleads guilty to concealing worker injury

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Posted at 3:34 PM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 16:42:56-05

Signal Peak Energy's former mine safety director admitted Thursday to a federal charge that he conspired with another mine official not to report an employee injury in 2018, according to U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

Curtis Floyd, 47 of Billings, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy to submit false statements in mine records. He faces a maximum of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release.

The case is part of a broader federal investigation into corruption at the Roundup mine that was launched nearly five years ago after a former mine executive, Larry Price, Jr., was convicted of defrauding the mine and other parties in a scheme to build Billings' largest mansion. The mine itself was also ordered to pay $1 million in fines in 2021 for illegally dumping mine waste and concealing employee injuries from federal regulators.

Floyd was the director of mine safety in early 2018 when an employee had his fingers crushed while loading mining materials, eventually requiring amputation, prosecutors alleged in court documents.

Floyd took the employee to the hospital, and on the way there, the employee received a call from a mine executive, Dale Musgrave, who urged him to claim the injury was unrelated to his work at the mine in exchange for a bribe, according to prosecutors.

Floyd told the employee he would go along with the injured man, so both agreed to conceal the nature of the injury. Floyd did not submit paperwork to the U.S. Department of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration, which is required for all mining accidents, according to prosecutors.

Floyd and the employee later admitted to their roles in the incident to investigators. Musgrave was sentenced to probation and fined $20,000 for his role.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided over Floyd's case. A sentencing date will be set before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Floyd was released pending further proceedings.

Related: Ranchers brings fight against Signal Peak coal mine to Montana DEQ