CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Six people have been sentenced for their roles in a false billing scheme involving illegal invoices at the former Massey Energy.
Donald Bryan Steele, 43, of Barboursville, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison on Thursday, according to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. Steele was a former owner of M&S Hydraulics, a major Massey supplier. Steele previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aiding and abetting in connection with the fraud scheme. Alpha Natural Resources purchased Massey Energy in 2011.
When police approached Steele in February, he admitted to illegally providing cash and other items to former Massey sourcing agents, Joey R. Phalin, Edward Ellis Mullins and Nicholas R. Coleman in exchange for invoices for payment that M&S Hydraulics had not provided, according to the release.
The three sourcing agents, who were responsible for ordering good and services for Massey, participated in the scheme to obtain goods for their own personal benefit, according to the release. The agents hid several illegal transactions by creating false invoices.
Phalin, 36, of Crab Orchard, was sentenced to five years probation with the first ten months to be served on home confinement. Coleman, 29, of Lester, was sentenced to five years probation.
Steele identified three other sourcing agents involved in scheme. Last week, Ricky R. Smith, 49, of Glen Daniels, was sentenced to one and a half years in federal prison. James Roger Long II, 34, of Beckley, was sentenced to one a half years in federal prison.
Harold Wayne Brown II, a former Alpha underground maintenance chief, previously pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal authorities in connection to the fraud scheme. Brown, 41, of Madison, will be sentenced Jan. 21.