James C. Justice II, the governor of West Virginia, made a fortune in 2009 when he sold Bluestone Resources, a collection of his best West Virginia coal mines, to Russian company Mechel OAO for $500 million plus several hundred million dollars in Mechel stock. That deal was enough to push Justice into the ranks of The Forbes 400 in 2011, with an estimated net worth of $1.1 billion, later peaking at $1.7 billion.
But the coal industry has deteriorated, and with it, the Justice family fortunes. In 2015, after coal prices plunged, the Russians insisted that the Justice family buy Bluestone back. So Justice paid $5 million for his old company, but also assumed some $300 million in environmental and legal obligations. Justice—in new court documents—says that the Russians left behind a shambles….