Retrial weighed for coal boss whose bonuses fed campaigns
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The Justice Department is weighing whether to retry a West Virginia coal boss on charges of campaign finance fraud.
A mistrial was declared Friday after the jury spent more than five hours deliberating the fate of 58-year-old James Lewis Laurita, of Morgantown.
News outlets report Laurita is accused of organizing a campaign finance scheme to give coal industry executives access to Congress members.
Federal prosecutors said Laurita gave some Mepco LLC executives bonuses that were then contributed as directed to candidate campaign finance committees.
Prosecutors said the scheme was done in a way that could have bypassed annual donation limits without the Federal Election Commission noticing. Laurita’s defense said the government couldn’t prove Laurita willfully violated the law.
U.S. Attorney Bill Powell says the case is being evaluated.