In charges filed against Aracoma Contracting in August, prosecutors said the company generated the cash to bribe Sargent and to pay employees by "structuring" withdrawals at the Bank of Mingo. This kind of "structuring" is when cash transactions are broken down to amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid having banks report the withdrawals to the Internal Revenue Service.
When court documents in the case first mentioned the role of the Bank of Mingo, the bank's chairman of the board, Harry Keith White, said bank officials had done nothing wrong.
"We have been aware of this [investigation] for a period of time and we are fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's Office with the investigation," White -- who is majority leader of the state House of Delegates -- said in August. "We do not feel that an individual was involved in any kind of scheme. They were doing best practices and doing what they thought was correct. I think it's probably an interpretation of the procedure."
In his affidavit, though, the FBI's Lafferty alleged that bank officials appeared to be part of the scheme. Lafferty specifically named Darrin McCormick, manager of the bank's Williamson branch -- and the mayor of Williamson -- saying he had probable cause to believe McCormick had aided Aracoma Contracting in the scheme.
McCormick could not be reached for comment Monday. His voicemail greeting says that, "I'll be taking some time off from the bank," and refers any bank business to other bank officials.
Lafferty says, for example, that authorities previously obtained copies of a series of faxes sent to McCormick by Aracoma Contracting in advance of large cash withdrawals, identifying the individuals from the company who would be at the bank to pick up the cash.
"Several of these credit advance requests and denomination sheets were sent as part of one facsimile transmission, clearly demonstrating to the recipient that the entire withdrawal, although spread across several people, was just one transaction for Aracoma," Lafferty said in his affidavit.
Also, Lafferty recounted statements from an Aracoma official who told investigators that McCormick had suggested the company request cash in an amount greater than $10,000 once in a while so that bank examiners would not suspect they were structuring their withdrawals.
Lafferty's affidavit also recounted a statement from longtime Bank of Mingo official Michael Brewer, who told investigators about a meeting bank officials held regarding the federal probe.
According to the affidavit, this meeting took place after a federal grand jury subpoena was issued in March 2012 for bank records pertaining to an account held by someone Lafferty referred to only as "Individual #1." Brewer told investigators that McCormick; White, the bank board chairman; and bank President Randy Brumfield attended the meeting.
"Brewer learned from McCormick and White that Individual #1 knew a federal grand jury subpoena had been given to the [bank] for Individual #1's bank records," Lafferty said in his affidavit. "McCormick and White informed Brewer that the FBI would not find anything on Individual #1."Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.