CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three more men were charged Thursday in connection with what federal prosecutors are calling "a major false billing scheme" involving purchasing agents at former Massey Energy mining operations.Ricky R. Smith, 49, of Glen Daniels, James Rodger Long II, 34, of Beckley, both former purchasing or "sourcing" agents for Massey Energy, were charged with wire fraud and aiding and abetting, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said in a news release.Harold Wayne Brown II, 41, of Madison, a former underground maintenance chief, was charged with making a false statement to federal authorities.All three have agreed to plead guilty and are cooperating with the ongoing investigation, the release states.
The investigation, which is ongoing, according to the release, found that several mine sourcing agents, who generally order goods and services for mining operations from Alpha suppliers, participated in the alleged scheme to obtain goods for their personal benefit.Also, the release states, the sourcing agents, working in conjunction with the suppliers, hid numerous illegal transactions by creating false invoices.On Oct. 6, 2011, the release states, Smith submitted a false invoice for $16,500 to purchase a "duster" from an Alpha parts supplier, M&S Hydraulics. The fake invoices were intended to look like legitimate purchases, but were actually used to provide cash, gifts and other valuables.In March, charges of wire fraud and aiding and abetting were filed against the owner of M&S Hydraulics, Donald Bryan Steele.Edward Ellis Mullins, 41, of Peytona, Joey R. Phalin, 36, of Crab Orchard, and Nicholas R. Coleman, 29, of Lester, are all facing charges of wire fraud and aiding and abetting. The release states they have all agreed to plead guilty and are cooperating.Mullins, Phalin, Coleman and Steele each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Smith and Long each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Brown faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.The FBI and the West Virginia State Police conducted the investigation with cooperation from Alpha Natural Resource's internal security team.