Men charged in Logan kickback scheme expected to plead guilty

By Staff reports

Federal prosecutors asked a judge this week to set hearings to allow the 10 men charged in a Logan County coal mine kickback scheme to plead guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith George Thomas filed motions in each of the 10 separate cases Tuesday asking that a “guilty plea hearing” be set.

Late last month federal prosecutors filed charges that described a widespread scheme that forced companies to pay kickbacks to obtain machine repair work and other contracts at an Arch Coal mining complex.

All 10 individuals are charged through “information” documents, rather than grand jury indictments. Charges can be brought through this process only when the defendant agrees to it, and such a move typically means those charged are cooperating with prosecutors.

Among those charged are the operation’s former general manager, David E. Runyon, and three other former employees of Arch’s Mingo Logan Coal subsidiary, which operates the mine site. Runyon and other former employees are charged with receiving $1.5 million in kickbacks between 2007 and 2012. Also among those charged are officials from eight firms alleged to have paid kickbacks to Arch mine management in deals to perform repair work, provide contract labor and do construction projects at Mountain Laurel, a major underground-mining complex near Sharples that employs more than 300 people.

Runyon, 45, of Delbarton, is charged with one count each of extortion and tax evasion.

Gary K. Griffith, 62, of Oceana, is charged with lying to federal agents; Stephen B. Herndon, 37, of Holden, is charged with structuring; Scott E. Ellis, 44, of Holden, is charged with aiding and abetting structuring; Alvis R. Porter, 61, of Holden, a former Logan County circuit clerk, is charged with failing to pay trust-fund taxes for one of his employees; David N. Herndon, 63, of Chauncey, is charged with attempting to engage in a monetary transaction … in criminally deprived property; Ronald Barnette, 53, of Holden, is charged with lying to federal agents; Gary L. Roeher, 52, of Holden, is charged with filing a false tax return; Chadwick J. Lusk, 32, of Davin, is charged with “honest services” mail fraud, and James H. Evans II, 39, of Verdunville, is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud.

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