The security chief of Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine was arrested Monday and charged with obstructing the investigation into an explosion last year that killed 29 miners, the first criminal charges stemming from the worst U.S. mining disaster in 40 years.

Hughie Elbert Stover, who also headed security at two other Massey operations, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in West Virginia on charges of lying to the FBI and trying to dispose of key documents. The indictment was unsealed Monday.

Stover provided personal security for then-Massey chief executive Don L. Blankenship, who retired in December, according to sources familiar with the federal and state investigations into the mine accident. “He was very, very close to Blankenship,” said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is continuing. “He would drive Blankenship places. He called him ‘Mr. B.’”

The indictment offers no insight into the cause of the April 5 blast at the Montcoal, W.Va., mine, which is owned by Richmond-based Massey. But experts said the charges suggest that the Justice Department is exploring possible criminal liability. Massey had been cited for numerous safety violations before the explosion.

Read the complete Washington Post story, “Massey official charged with lying to FBI in mine investigation.”