- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A company owned by billionaire coal businessman and gubernatorial candidate Jim Justice is in contempt of federal court after a judge said it has not paid debts and repeatedly failed to show up for hearings.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ordered Justice Energy Company in contempt on Jan. 5 for not paying a nearly $150,000 debt owed to a construction equipment company, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported (http://bit.ly/1SQs32y).

Berger fined the coal mining and leasing company $30,000 per day, beginning Jan. 5, until the company is in full compliance.

Tom Lusk, a spokesman for Justice’s mining companies, said in a statement forwarded by Justice’s campaign that debt, which is more than two years old, was accrued before Justice bought the company.

“There is a payment plan worked out, and we are continuing to make those payments,” Lusk said. “We have always and will always fulfill every one of our commitments.”

Justice Energy Company, one of 97 companies that Justice owns, according to a financial disclosure he filed to run for governor, was first sued by James River Equipment, a Virginia-based company, in November 2013. The plaintiff said it is owed money for parts, service and equipment.

Justice, who also owns The Greenbrier resort and is the state’s richest man, is running for governor as a Democrat. He faces state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler and former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin in the May primary.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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