Massey suppliers, sourcing agents admit to stealing $1.3 million - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Massey suppliers, sourcing agents admit to stealing $1.3 million from Massey Legacy Mines

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Six people have been sentenced for their roles in bilking the former Massey Legacy Mines of more than $1 million through a fake invoicing scam, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said.

The latest, Donald Bryan Steele, 43, was sentenced Jan. 16 to 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and aiding and abetting. Steele, a Barboursville resident, at one time owned M&S Hydraulics, a major supplier to Massey. Alpha Natural Resources finalized the purchase of Massey, including the mining divisions located along WV Route 3 in Boone and Raleigh counties, in June 2011.

Steel admitted to investigators that he submitted about $1.3 million in bogus invoices to Massey between 2007 and 2012 through an arrangement with sourcing agents Joey R. Phalin, Edward Ellis Mullins and Nicholas R. Coleman. The three, generally responsible for ordering goods and services for mining operations, hid numerous illegal transactions by creating faked invoices, Goodwin said.

Phalin, 36, of Crab Orchard was sentenced to five years' probation, the first three months of which are to be served on home confinement. Mullins, 41, of Peyton was sentenced to five years' probation, the first 10 months of which are to be served on home confinement, and Coleman, 29, of Lester was sentenced to five years' probation.

Former sourcing agents Ricky R. Smith, 49, of Glen Daniels and James Rodger Long II, 34, of Beckley, previously were sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison.

Harold Wayne Brown II, a former Alpha underground maintenance chief, also admitted to making a false statement to federal authorities regarding benefits he had received from the scam. Brown, 41, of Madison is scheduled for sentencing on Jan. 21.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the West Virginia State Police with cooperation from Alpha Natural Resource's internal security team. Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Ryan is in charge of the prosecutions.