Prosecutors want guilty plea hearing for top executive charged in West Virginia chemical spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – 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 federal court Wednesday, prosecutors filed the request for former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern’s hearing.

Southern faces federal pollution and bankruptcy fraud charges. He faces up to 93 years in prison if convicted, and previously pleaded not guilty.

Robert Allen, an attorney for Southern, declined to 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 in the spill.

Another former Freedom president, Dennis Farrell, is the remaining official charged in the case. He pleaded not guilty to pollution charges.