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County attorney investigating Blackjewel bankruptcy, former CEO Jeff Hoops

For nearly 600 Powder River Basin coal mine workers, July 1, 2019, is as infamous a date as Sept. 11, 2001, Nov. 22, 1963, or perhaps even Jan. 6, 2021.

That’s the day Blackjewel LLC suddenly imploded, abruptly closing its flagship Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines in Campbell County.

Jeff Hoops

Former Blackjewel LLC CEO Jeffrey Hoops Sr. is fighting with the company’s estate in bankruptcy court for millions he says is owed in personal loans he made to the company. But in a court filing, Blackjewel attorneys allege Hoops and his businesses mismanaged the company into bankruptcy while lining his pockets.

Stories of the year: Coal Bankruptcy

Earl and Elizabeth Elliott hold each other as they attend a meeting of local and state officials as they discuss how to respond to the closing of Blackjewel LLC’s Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. The July 1, 2019, lockout put nearly 600 employees out of work.

Doug Cox

Doug Cox stands for a portrait at his business, Western Services, Jan. 28.

Doug Cox

Western Services owner Doug Cox looks at a copy of a check from Blackjewel LLC for more than $61,000 that bounced after Blackjewel filed for bankruptcy in July 2019. In all, the company, run by former CEO Jeff Hoops Sr., went under owing Cox’s company more than $126,000, a financial hit he says nearly shuttered the business and one he’s still recovering from.

Doug Cox

Western Services owner Doug Cox shows one of the checks from Blackjewel LLC for more than $61,000 that his company wasn’t able to cash.

Doug Cox

Western Services owner Doug Cox works in the office of his Gillette business Jan. 28. Cox is upset with Blackjewel LLC leaving his business out more than $126,000.

Doug Cox

Doug Cox, above, stands for a portrait at his Gillette-based business, Western Services. Below, he shows a copy of a check Blackjewel LLC gave him just days before the company filed for bankruptcy. The next week, Cox got a call from his bank saying the check bounced.

(4) comments


I was one of the last people hired by black jewel. Brandy Elder, you have no place to attempt to claim PTSD! You played right along with hoops. I specifically asked you if the company was safe, financially solid, and a safe employment choice. You, Brandy Elder, assured me that black jewels “financial issues are behind us”, SHAME on YOU, Brandy Elder! Further, Brandy Elder, you stated in your interview you knew something was wrong, but you did nothing about it, and continued to work on. One of the biggest crimes in the United States, if not the biggest crime, is theft of time! Jeffery Hoops and the black jewel management stole time from myself and all my coworkers! And they got by with it!


“If this isn’t illegal, it should be,” Yeah, you’d think that a former board member at Appalachian Bible College and a member of SCORE International Ministries, Encounter Revival Ministries and the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Hurricane, West Virginia, where he served on the finance committee, would know that “Thou shalt not steal”. But that’s only for people not corporations. One only has to form a corporation and purchase a few lawmakers to get away with anything these days. The trick is to fool people into sending your corporate stooge to congress where he or she can pass laws that enable the larceny. Apparently it isn’t that hard to do since wise Wyoming voters overwhelming voted to send a guy with six business bankruptcies between 1991 and 2009 to the Whitehouse last year. When was the last time your congressman said they wanted to cut regulations? Did you ever consider that cutting regulations might just cost you your house, health or life? Probably not, but you should. In the end, you get the government that you deserve. So cowboy up – you did this to yourself.


A painful lesson for sure but not an uncommon one. As long as corporations are allowed to engage in shady finances and go around regulations put in place to prevent this type of thing from happening innocent people will be hurt. Trump did the same thing to the contractors who built his casinos yet it was all overlooked to put him in office where he rolled back any regulations that might have stopped this type of business activity. Kind of wish you had Elizabeth Warren looking out for your business interests now, maybe?


Please everyone in Campbell County realize that Donald Trump did this same type of thing 4 or 5 times before he was elected President. He filed bankruptcy and left owing people hundreds of thousands of dollars. But so many people say its okay for him to do it because its legal. When you are the small business left being owed the money it affects you differently. Just like when you are the employee left being owed wages & salary. Hopefully the world can find a way to use Gillette's vast energy resources so that " Life Can Go On" as usual. Counting on one person to turn it around it not the route we should be taking. Best wishes to Gillette and Campbell County for I know how good the area was to me my entire adult working life.

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