Prosecutors want guilty plea hearing for WVa exec in spill

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to schedule a guilty plea hearing for the top executive charged in a massive chemical spill last year.

In Charleston on Wednesday, prosecutors filed the request for former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern's hearing.

Southern faces federal pollution and bankruptcy fraud charges. He previously pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors generally file guilty plea hearings when a defendant has agreed to plead guilty to a federal charge or charges, said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.

Robert Allen, an attorney for Southern, declined comment.

In January 2014, a Freedom Industries tank leak in Charleston spurred a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

Four other ex-Freedom officials and the company itself have pleaded guilty to federal pollution violations.