WV Public Broadcasting Staff
Fri May 30, 2014
Ten Charged in Logan County Extortion Scheme
Federal charges have been filed against ten southern West Virginia men in connection with a pay-to-play scheme at a Logan County mine.
U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Booth Goodwin announced the filings in Charleston Friday which involved an elaborate extortion scheme surrounding the Mountain Laurel Mining Complex owned by Arch Coal.
The site’s former General Manager David Runyon of Delbarton was said to be at the center of that scheme, charged with extorting vendors for cash kickbacks in order to ensure the vendors’ contracts for work at the mine site. Court documents show Runyon and other Arch Coal employees received nearly $2 million between 2007 and 2012.
“[Vendors] were able to guarantee that they got and kept these contracts and many of them, as you can appreciate, are very, very lucrative contracts,” Goodwin said.
“I mean, if they’re willing to upwards of $2 million in total to keep them, you can imagine how big these contracts are.”
Goodwin said Arch Coal cooperated fully with his office during the investigation.
The company released a written statement Friday saying:
“When we raised concerns about certain irregularities at one of our West Virginia operations, federal authorities responded quickly and with the utmost professionalism. While it was extremely disappointing to find that former employees had failed to live up to our trust in them, we are pleased and relieved to have this behind us.”
Aside from Runyon, Gary Griffith of Oceana was charged with making false statements to the FBI and State Police about receiving cash kickbacks of at least $250,000 for himself and Runyon. Griffith is the former maintenance manager of Mountain Laurel.
Stephen Herndon and Scott Ellis, both of Holden were both charged with structuring cash withdrawals from a local bank, taking out money to pay nearly $425,000 over five years to secure rebuild work at the mine site for their company, Tri-State Mine Services.
Alvis Porter of Holden was charged with failing to collect, account for and pay over trust fund taxes for an employee. His company Quality Oil, Inc., operating at the time as Southern Construction of Logan, was providing construction services for Mountain Laurel.
David Herndon of Chauncey was charged with engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction of criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000. Herndon’s company MAC Mine Service, Inc., provided contract labor to Mountain Laurel. Herndon paid kickbacks of approximately $340,000 to ensure his contract would be renewed each year.
Ronald Barnette of Holden was charged with lying to the FBI and State Police about paying kickbacks for his company to receive work rebuilding miners and bolters at the site. Barnette’s payments totaled about $300,000.
Gary Roeher of Holden was charged with filing a false tax return after he deducted about $43,000 as a business expense for his company CM Supply. Charges say Roeher used the money to install an in-ground swimming pool at his home.
Chadwick Lusk of Davin was charged with mail fraud after charges say he defrauded Arch Coal of its right to honest services. Lusk received cash kickbacks from Roeher for crib blocks Arch Coal had purchased for roof support in underground mining areas of Moutain Laurel.
James Evans II of Verdunville was charged with conspiracy to omit honest service fraud. His company, Baisden Recycling recycled scrap metal from the mine complex. Evans paid Arch’s $30,000 commission on some scrap cable to Runyon through Stephen Herndon rather than to Arch.
All charging documents were filed as informations, which typically means the accused have agreed to cooperate in the investigation.