- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 17, 2020

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to fraud after bilking a central Montana coal mine of more than $10 million in a five-year scheme.

James Howard Boothe Jr. acknowledged his part in overbilling Signal Peak Energy for mining repairs and equipment, such as conveyors and coal screening equipment between 2013 and 2018, the Billings Gazette reported.

Boothe identified former company vice president Larry Wayne Price Jr. as a partner in the conspiracy. Price pleaded guilty to wire fraud in December 2018 and has not yet been sentenced.

Boothe’s charges stem from a scheme in which he sent fake invoices to the company, which then paid the money to companies that were allegedly controlled by Price.

Signal Peak Energy is owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Boich Companies. Boich didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday.

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