The scheme involved four mining contract firms -- Aracoma Contracting, Christian Contracting, T&W Services, and Newhall Contracting. All were "employee leasing" services that supplied miners for coal companies, including Alpha Natural Resources and Patriot Coal, under arrangements that are common in the coal industry.
In the scheme, the contract firms paid their workers in cash, avoiding employment taxes and allowing them to hide their true payrolls from BrickStreet, dramatically lowering their workers' compensation premiums.
Sargent admitted that he took bribes to cover up the activity when he performed audits for BrickStreet of the contract firms. In March, Sargent pleaded guilty to "honest services" mail fraud, which means he deprived BrickStreet of its intangible right to his honest services, and to tax evasion.
By statute, Sargent faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Copenhaver sentenced him right in the middle of the 63- to 78-month range recommended by the federal advisory sentencing guidelines. But the judge also sided with prosecutors in first determining that Sargent had defrauded BrickStreet and the state workers' compensation program of just more than $7 million, a level above which the recommended sentencing range increased by 12 to 15 months.
Sargent's attorney, Troy Giatras, had argued that prosecutors did not have concrete evidence to back up any exact figures for the amount of money Sargent defrauded BrickStreet of in reduced premiums for the coal contractors.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.