BILLINGS — A Virginia-based equipment company owner who admitted to defrauding Signal Peak Energy, LLC, which operates a coal mine near Roundup, out of nearly $250,000 under a buy-in scheme of equipment was today sentenced to four years probation, fined $50,000 and ordered to pay restitution, U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Robert Wayne Ramsey, 56, of Bluefield, Virginia, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to wire fraud.
U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Judge Watters ordered Ramsey to pay restitution of $246,268.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that in March 2017, Larry J. Price, the former vice president of surface operations at Signal Peak, also owned Three Solutions, LLC. It was generally known that Signal Peak purchased important materials through Three Solutions. Ramsey’s company, Peters Equipment Company (PEC), was doing work at Signal Peak and bidding for additional jobs. Ramsey understood that Price had the final say in awarding many Signal Peak jobs.
The government further alleged that in March 2017, Price asked Ramsey to help with a business transaction for Signal Peak. Price told Ramsey that Signal Peak needed to purchase equipment made by a third-party distributor that Signal Peak’s senior management was unwilling to do business with due to a dispute. Price asked if Ramsey, through PEC, would purchase the equipment and sell it to Signal Peak for a $250,000 markup.
Price later told Ramsey that PEC should not buy the equipment and instead pay Price’s company, Three Solutions, for the price of the equipment while charging Signal Peak for the amount, plus the markup. Ramsey knew that Price was using PEC as an intermediary to disguise the source of the equipment. Ramsey understood that he was misleading some Signal Peak officials about the source of the equipment and that the officials were unaware that PEC was receiving an additional $246,134 for acting as a middleman. Ramsey also knew that Signal Peak would pay an additional $246,134 for the equipment following purchase through PEC.
Price was sentenced in October 2020 to five years in prison for being found guilty of several crimes stemming from an extensive investigation into corruption in the management and operations of the mine.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin M. Rubich, Zeno B. Baucus and Timothy Tatarka prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI, IRS and Environmental Protection Agency.