Pillersdorf says miners victim of ‘greed scheme’

Published 12:30 pm Monday, August 19, 2019

Ned Pillersdorf, a bankruptcy attorney handling the case for laid-off Blackjewel miners, met with them during a session in the Letcher County Courthouse to provide new information regarding their case. Pillersdorf said he heard from some miners stating Kopper Glo has started accepting applications in order to resume operations.

“The miners have a priority claim for $6 million that have been set aside, along with the one million dollars promised once the royalties are received — which seems more likely now that they are accepting applications,” Pillersdorf said. “Regardless, the future looks a lot better for the miners than they looked July 1.”

During a meeting with miners at the tracks in Cumberland on Aug. 7, Pillersdorf said he believed former Blackjewel CEO Jeff Hoops moved money from Blackjewel’s account and then claimed bankruptcy. Pillersdorf added that Hoops, along with his father and Lexington Coal, were individually sued and the case was pending.

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Pillersdorf said it has always been his speculation that Hoops and his company was not bankrupt, and now new information confirms his acquisitions.

“Wall Street is reporting that in the few months before they filed bankruptcy, Blackjewel shifted their assets by paying almost $50 million to Jeff Hoops,” Pillersdorf said.

Pillersdorf added this was nothing more than a “greed scheme” to rid themselves of debt and “cause great economic chaos to these hardworking miners.”

Many miners and community members are led to believe Hoops took the money in order to fund a project for a resort in West Virginia.

“Hoops got his money, but the miners are sitting in the hot sun at the railroad tracks with bounced checks,” Pillersdorf said.

Pillersdorf, along with Appalachian Citizens Law Center, told miners they would receive a proof of claims form in the mail from the bankruptcy court in West Virginia, but asked them not to fill it out. Pillersdorf said the miners were approved by the court as a class-action suit, which covers all employees.

Blackjewel miners were also recently notified that the Blackjewel 401k Plan was terminated. Miners are now eligible to receive their account amount now or have the amount placed in a direct rollover to an individual retirement account (IRA) or other qualified plan.

A total of $85 — $60 going to Benefit Plans Services and $25 to American Funds – will be deducted from the account regardless of the path miners choose to take. The fees are charged by service providers to process distribution. Blackjewel does not have any control over the fees or accounts.