Coal King Don Blankenship Makes Last-Minute Bid to Put Off Prison

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Attorneys for Don Blankenship mounted a last-minute effort to keep the disgraced West Virginia coal boss out of prison, just two days before he was scheduled to report for his first day behind bars.

Blankenship’s lawyers filed an emergency stay motion Tuesday in hopes of convincing the court to allow their client to remain a free man on $1 million bail while the court considers his appeal. Though he was tried in West Virginia, the defense’s motion revealed he is expected to serve his time in California starting Thursday, should the motion fail.

Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, was convicted in December and later sentenced to one year in prison for conspiring to violate safety standards ahead of a mine explosion that killed 29 workers in 2010. At the time of his sentencing, prosecutors bemoaned such a short sentence – the maximum for the conspiracy charge -- for what they called “monstrous” wrongdoing.

In response to the defense’s motion Tuesday, federal prosecutors said that the emergency motion was “redundant” because Blankenship’s team had already asked the appeals court to spare him from serving time during the appeals process.

“His latest motion adds nothing except to say that he is set to serve his sentence in California,” prosecutors said. “Since defendant has consistently asserted in the district court that he now resides in Nevada, the fact that he is to report in California should pose no special difficulty.”

Federal law says that defendants can remain free pending appeal if they can show their arguments on appeal raise a substantial question of law or fact likely to result in reversal, an order for a new trial, a sentence that does not include a prison term, or a reduced sentence to a jail term less than the defendant has already served plus the expected duration of the appeal.

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California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfires

California anticipates much-needed rain this week after catastrophic wildfiresGoogle Earth(NEW YORK) -- Ravaged by a slew of deadly wildfires in recent days, northern California is set to get a bit of relief this week in the form of rain.

A storm system is expected to move over the Pacific Northwest later this week and the trailing cold front will most likely bring some much-needed rain to northern California between Thursday and Friday, according to ABC meteorologists.

"It will rain a bit but not enough to fully douse the blazes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said in a statement Tuesday. "The biggest advantage to firefighters will be the increase in humidity and lower temperatures."

Massive wildfires have charred more than 245,000 acres of land statewide in the past week, killing at least 41 people and destroying thousands of homes, according to authorities.

Firefighters were battling about a dozen wildfires as of late Tuesday evening, although most of them were more than halfway contained.

“The weather today will be warm with low humidity, which will continue to challenge firefighters, but only light winds are forecast,” CalFire said in a statement on Tuesday. “A chance of precipitation is expected to arrive later in the week, bringing relief from the dry conditions.”

The northern parts of the Golden State, which has bared the brunt of the fire damage, is forecast to see an influx of cloudy, cooler and wetter weather later in the week, according to AccuWeather.

Spotter from Los Osos was reporting sprinkles from this high level moisture. Dry at lower levels. Rain evaporates. Also called "Virga" #cawx pic.twitter.com/sgxj3bdXZQ

— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 18, 2017

However, a return of dry air, heat and areas of gusty winds could once again raise the wildfire danger early next week, meteorologists said.

Separately, a band of moisture, referred to as Atmospheric River by weather experts, is currently stretching between Asia and North America. It’s expected to bring several storm systems into many parts of the Pacific Northwest through the rest of the week.

The first of these storms have already hit the Pacific Northwest with wind gusts of between 40 and 74 mph.

A number of wind warnings and flood watches are in effect in the western and northern parts of the U.S. ahead of the storm.

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