CHARLESTON \u2014 U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart reports that authorities have finished deposing representatives of a company owned by West Virginia\u2019s governor over a $1.23 million federal penalty.\r\n\r\nThe point is to determine what means Justice Energy has to pay the debt.\r\n\r\nStuart and representatives of Justice Energy Company submitted a\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5973563-Joint-Status-Report.html">joint status report<\/a>\u00a0on Friday.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn addition, the United States has requested documentation regarding equipment owned and disposed of by Justice Energy Company since January 1, 2016,\u201d lawyers wrote. \u201cThat documentation is in the process of being completed and should be completed soon.\r\n\r\n\u201cAfter those matters have been completed, the United States will determine what collection efforts it will undertake to recover the penalty imposed by the court.\u201d\r\n\r\nJustice Energy is one of the companies owned by the family of Gov. Jim Justice.\r\n\r\nJustice took office as governor in 2017. He never has put most of his companies in a blind trust, but has said his son, Jay, has responsibility for the coal operations. Jay Justice, whose full name is James C. Justice III, is listed as president of\u00a0<a href="http:\/\/apps.sos.wv.gov\/business\/corporations\/organization.aspx?org=221947">Justice Energy.<\/a>\r\n\r\nThe federal prosecutor and lawyers for Justice Energy wound up in this position after U.S. District Judge Irene Berger ran short on patience on a lawsuit that has been in federal court since 2013.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Defendant\u2019s decision to simply ignore Court orders, deadlines and obligations precipitated the imposition of the contempt sanction,\u201d Berger wrote in early January.\r\n\r\n\u201cContinuing to flout the Court\u2019s directives is not a strategy likely to engender positive results.\u201d\r\n\r\nA federal lawsuit filed by James River Equipment Nov. 6, 2013, alleged that Justice Energy failed to pay for parts, equipment and service.\r\n\r\nAt the time, all that was owed was $148,496.14.\r\n\r\nOn Jan. 21, 2014, the court granted James River\u2019s motion for default and awarded $156,112, an amount that included damages.\r\n\r\nBut Justice Energy failed to pay and its representatives failed to appear at a series of hearings.\r\n\r\nThis was at a time when the company\u00a0was still owned by the Russian Energy company Mechel OAO. Justice had sold to Mechel in May 2009 for $568 million and then bought it back in 2015 for $5 million.\r\n\r\nAs the struggle continued for James River to receive the\u00a0$156,112 judgment, the company in late 2015 filed a\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5668100-Motion-for-Justice-Contempt.html">motion for contempt.<\/a>\r\n\r\nThe judge granted the contempt motion and ordered Justice Energy to be fined $30,000 a day until it could demonstrate compliance with the earlier order.\r\n\r\nBy Feb. 26, 2016, as Justice was warming up for the Democratic primary race for governor \u2014 as a Democrat at the time \u2014 the situation had barely improved.\r\n\r\nBut the two parties had worked out a payment plan, and\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5668101-Order-by-Berger-in-Justice-Energy-Case.html">Berger agreed.\u00a0<\/a>\r\n\r\nShe ordered the judgment of $1,230,000, representing the total amount of the sanction from her earlier order.\r\n\r\nJustice Energy twice appealed to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.\r\n\r\nOne aspect of the appeals took issue with the $30,000-a-day penalty that had added up, saying it was unclear how the judge arrived at that amount and contending it was an abuse of discretion.\r\n\r\nTwice, judges with the Fourth Circuit\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5683883-First-Order-Dismissing-Appeal.html">ruled against<\/a>\u00a0Justice Energy. \u201cWe have reviewed the record and find no reversible error,\u201d judges wrote in the\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5683881-No-Reversible-Error.html">second dismissal<\/a>.\r\n\r\nThe dismissals circled the case back to Berger\u2019s courtroom, where the judge has asked for updates on paying the fine.\r\n\r\nThe U.S. Attorney\u2019s Office was charged with checking on the progress of the payments.\r\n\r\nThat led to an eye-opening\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5668098-Justice-Financial-Resources.html">court filing<\/a>\u00a0late this past December.\r\n\r\nThe filing included a letter last Nov. 28 from Stuart to lawyers representing Justice Energy Company.\u00a0Stuart wrote that it\u2019s unclear whether Justice Energy has enough money to pay the fine.\r\n\r\n\u201cBased on my conversation with you, as counsel for Justice Energy Company, Inc., there was some suggestion that Justice Energy Company, Inc., may not have the financial resources to pay the sanctions imposed by the court,\u201d Stuart wrote.\r\n\r\nThat filing included a request to depose employees and representatives of Justice Energy.\r\n\r\nFederal prosecutors filed notice that they would\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5973593-Notice-to-Depose-Justice-Energy.html">take depositions<\/a>March 14 of Jay Justice; Stephen W. Ball, a lawyer for Justice\u2019s companies; and James T. Miller, another officer of Justice\u2019s companies.\r\n\r\nBerger last week\u00a0<a href="https:\/\/www.documentcloud.org\/documents\/5973485-Berger-Order-to-File-Updates.html">ordered\u00a0<\/a>the U.S. Attorneys and lawyers for Justice Energy to provide a status update.