Mercer County woman to serve 18 months for structuring scheme - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Mercer County woman to serve 18 months for structuring scheme

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A Mercer County woman will serve a year and a half in prison for her role in a $1.3 million employment tax evasion and structuring scheme after she assisted others involved in two coal-related businesses to avoid bank reporting requirements.  

Jill R. Sells appeared in federal court in Beckley Nov. 8 where she faced a charge of conspiracy. According to the stipulation of facts, Sells along with other "known persons" broke down withdrawals into increments up to $10,000 to avoid certain reporting requirements.

The stipulation notes the bank had an obligation requiring people to file currency transaction reports for transactions more than $10,000.

The other known people would create counter checks that Sells would cash. She received a fee for cashing these checks, the stipulation continues.

Of the $1.3 million estimated in the structuring scheme, Sells was personally involved in structuring $330,000, according to the stipulation of facts.

Her other two charges of structuring were dismissed.

Besides Sells, three others were listed in the case – James H. Trent, Trent's girlfriend, Brandy M. Horvath, and the New West Virginia Mining Company.

The indictment charged Horvath and Trent with employment tax evasion. Horvath also was charged with structuring and conspiracy. Federal prosecutors allege Trent provided false information to an IRS agent regarding approximately $800,000 in overdue personal corporate and employment taxes.

The indictment asserts Trent closed his personal and business accounts and started using Horvath's accounts to hide his income.

Trent also is accused of making employee wages payable to a "non-existent company to evade the payment of employment taxes."

Trent bought Lopin Red Ash Inc. in 2006 and selected Horvath as the nominee owner and president, the April indictment states. Horvath also was selected as New West Virginia Mining's president, the indictment states.

The indictment states Sells and Horvath were friends but Sells was not employed by West Virginia Mining or Lopin Red Ash.

Federal prosecutors accuse Horvath and Sells of falsifying memo lines on checks from the businesses' accounts to hide the companies' income, the indictment asserts. Both also are accused of making withdrawals of up to $10,000 to avoid bank requirements.

Horvath and Trent entered not guilty pleas in May and their trials are set for June 25 at 9 a.m. in Beckley.