CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Ten Arch Coal employees at a West Virginia mine are charged with pocketing almost $2 million from vendors in a pay-to-play kickback scheme, federal prosecutors said Friday.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said the widespread setup required vendors to pay kickbacks to Arch employees to do business with the coal company. The employees at Arch's Mountain Laurel mining complex in Logan County are accused of taking kickbacks from 2007 to 2012.
The Mountain Laurel facility includes underground and surface mining. It produced 2.9 million tons in sales last year, according to Arch Coal's website.
The St. Louis-based company has previously said it reached out to the U.S. attorney for help investigating possible misconduct. The company issued a statement Friday thanking investigators for their quick response.
"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 issue behind us," the company said.
Former Mountain Laurel General Manager David E. Runyon is accused of helping orchestrate the scheme. The 45-year-old from Delbarton faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of extortion.
Vendors spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to win or keep contracts at Mountain Laurel, with two employees at Tri-State Mining Service Inc. shelled out nearly $425,000 over five years, prosecutors said.
Quality Oil Inc., then doing business as Southern Construction of Logan, directly paid Runyon $400,000 in kickbacks through its owner, Alvis R. Porter, prosecutors said.
Porter, a 61-year-old from Holden, is a former Logan County Circuit Court clerk. He was charged with failing to collect, account for and pay over trust fund taxes for an employee.
In another instance, prosecutors said, the owner of MAC Mine Service Inc. paid $340,000 for more than three years to keep Runyon from terminating a labor contract. The owner, 63-year-old David N. Herndon of Chauncey, faces charges.
Another vendor that refurbishes mine shuttle cars gave Runyon and a former maintenance manager at least $250,000 in kickbacks, prosecutors said.
Other Arch employees and vendors face various charges, from mail fraud to structuring cash withdrawals.
Goodwin said the investigation is ongoing.
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