A local executive who reached a plea deal in Montana last fall after being caught up in a mining scheme was convicted in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana on Thursday.
Robert W. Ramsey, president of Peters Equipment Company in Bluefield, Va., was sentenced to a fine, four years probation and compensation for a wire fraud charge related to Larry W’s scam operation Price Jr. involving a coal mine in Billings, Montana. , signal energy peak.
Ramsey said he had “no knowledge of Price’s fraud”.
“I remain committed to moving forward working with our loyal employees to continue our long tradition of serving our clients’ needs with integrity and quality workmanship,” Ramsey said in a statement released Thursday by his attorney, Tammy owen.
Owen said Ramsey remains at his post at Peters Equipment Company (PEC).
According to court documents, in March 2017, Ramsey agreed to have PEC act as an intermediary in the purchase of mining equipment for Signal Peak Energy, a Montana coal company.
Owen said he did so “despite being advised that senior management was unaware that PEC was acting as an intermediary rather than a direct seller, and that the structure of the transaction would involve the expense additional funds”.
Owen said Ramsey had no idea anything illegal was going on and believed he was dealing with a legitimate company and was asked to help by being a middleman.
But the deal was orchestrated by Price, a Tazewell County native, who pleaded guilty to multiple fraud charges, admitting to obtaining more than $20 million through various schemes.
“Ramsey had no knowledge of Price’s fraud, including Price’s intention to use PEC’s role to cover up a fraudulent scheme,” Owen said.
However, she added, since emails were exchanged regarding the transactions, a charge of wire fraud was brought.
The dollar amount of the fine and restitution were not disclosed.
When PEC first became involved in the Price investigation in 2020, the company released the following statement:
“Recent news reports have mentioned Peters Equipment Company as part of a federal investigation into the activities of Larry Price Jr. and others. Although PEC did business with Mr. Price and entities with which he was affiliated, PEC had no knowledge of any illicit activity; on the contrary, Mr. Price told PEC that all transactions were approved and constituted legitimate business activities. Additionally, Signal Peak mine management – including its President and CEO, Brad Hanson – assured PEC that all transactions involving Signal Peak were legitimate and honest activities. Rest assured, however, that PEC has committed no wrongdoing. The company has a long history of serving the needs of the coal and mining industries with integrity and quality workmanship, and PEC looks forward to continuing to do so.
In 2020, Price was sentenced to five years in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty in December 2018 to three counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to launder money and misrepresentation. official. He admitted defrauding businesses of more than $20 million and lying to investigators about his Tazewell County abduction.
Price owned or operated several businesses in Tazewell County at one time and was also known in Billings as the man behind a more than $10 million, 26,000 square foot mansion that is the tallest residential building ever built in Billings, according to an article in the Billings Gazette. .
A U.S. District Court statement said Price’s crimes resulted in “staggering financial loss and harm to many people, including some who lost their life savings, all for he can live in luxury”.
The Billings Gazette previously reported that U.S. attorney Kurt Alme said the prosecution presented a case with court documents showing that between October 2016 and April 2018, Price embezzled approximately $20,321,134 from three companies linked to the coal. Price was vice president of surface operations at Signal Peak Energy and also operated a private company called 3 Solutions, LLC, whose primary purpose was to supply chemicals to Signal Peak Energy.
Price defrauded three companies related to coal mining: Ninety M, LLC, a Wyoming investor firm seeking to invest in coal mining projects; Three Blind Mice, LLC, another Wyoming company with investors looking to invest in mining; and peak signal energy.
It was in April 2018 that Price, who claimed to be a coal mining expert, was involved in a bizarre kidnapping that didn’t actually happen.
Price was reported missing by his wife, but in May he was charged in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, with making false statements regarding allegations that he was kidnapped.
According to the criminal complaint and affidavit, Price’s wife reported him missing at 1:58 a.m. on April 14, 2018, to the police department in Bluefield, Virginia. Bluefield Police, along with the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, launched an intense missing persons investigation that would later include Virginia State Police helicopter assets, canine assets and hundreds of federal, state and local investigation man-hours.
Around 9 p.m. on April 14, Price was located by a driver who noticed him on the side of the road on Route 61 near Gratton, Virginia.
Price was taken to the hospital and questioned by a detective from the Bluefield Police Department. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Price told the detective he was kidnapped by two unknown white men, drugged and held against his will until he was kicked out of a van near where he was. has been found.
Additionally, Price told the detective that he was taken from Tazewell County to a business he owned, Hawg Pit Cycles in West Virginia, where he believed his keys were taken and the safe from the store had been robbed. Price said the unidentified individuals pointed a gun at him, searched his pockets and took his pocket knife and 9mm Sig firearm.
According to the affidavit, these statements by the defendant and other statements he made to federal law enforcement officials were false because Price was, in fact, by mutual agreement with another person. during the time he claimed to have been kidnapped.
The case was investigated by the Bluefield, Va. Police Department, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
According to reports from the Billings Gazette, two other Tazewell County residents were also charged with fraud after Price convinced them to move to Montana to work for him.
Todd Allen Irwin was probated for pleading guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm.
The job he accepted required him in part to live in Price’s house and maintain access to Price’s gun stash, which contained 57 guns.
Irwin had a conviction by the state of South Carolina that prohibited him from owning firearms.
“He was the kind of person you didn’t say no to,” Irwin said of Price. “My wife refers to it – it was almost like a cult.”
Irwin had previously worked for Price in Virginia, he said. When the Montana job offer first came, Irwin said he told Price he was happy living east. But Irwin said Price replied that he would send a jet to Irwin to visit Montana.
It was a similar story to Zachary Ruble, who eventually accepted Price’s offer to work at the Signal Peak mine at Roundup.
Ruble initially turned down the job, saying he and his wife were happy in their newly built home in Virginia. The pair had been college teammates at Tazewell. But Price flew Ruble to Montana twice and raised the salary offer, and Ruble later accepted, according to documents filed by his attorney in a separate case and reported by the Gazette.
Ruble was also placed on probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to earlier reports.
Irwin and Ruble’s probation sentence, according to Gazette reports, was tied to their lack of knowledge of what they were unwittingly getting themselves into in the first place.
In Ruble’s case, the Gazette reported that statements from the judge, prosecutor and defense portrayed Ruble as a good guy who couldn’t bring himself to say “no” in a bad situation, initially. The defense said his eventual opposition to Price’s criminal activity subsequently caused the coal executive to decline.
— Contact Charles Boothe at [email protected]