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Contractor sentenced for role in Signal Peak Mine fraud scheme

Posted at 8:18 AM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 10:18:20-04

Another person was sentenced in federal court Thursday in connection to an investigation into mass corruption at the Signal Peak Mine near Roundup.

Robert Wayne Ramsey, owner of a Virginia-based equipment contracting firm, was sentenced to four years probation, a $50,000 fine and $246,268 in restitution for his role in a scheme to defraud the mine, according to U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson.

Ramsey, the 56-year-old owner of Peters Equipment Company, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to wire fraud for his role in helping Larry Price, a former mine vice president, divert money from the money to a separate firm owned by Price. Price was also in charge of awarding Signal Peak contracts to outside firms, and Ramsey was competing for bids.

Federal prosecutors stated in court documents that Price initially approached Ramsey for help with an equipment transaction that had been vetoed by Signal Peak management. He initially wanted Ramsey to buy equipment from a third party, then sell it to Signal Peak for a $250,000 markup.

Price later changed the plan and instead told Ramsey to pay his company, Three Solutions, the price of the equipment, then send Signal Peak the bill, plus the markup, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Ramsey knew Price was using his firm to disguise the source of the equipment and defraud Signal Peak of $246,134.

Price is currently in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to defrauding multiple firms, including Signal Peak, of $20 million, which he used to build a giant mansion on the northwestern edge of Billings.

At least two other mine officials have been convicted of federal crimes in relation to corruption investigation, along with a Billings banker and builders who worked on Price's home. In addition, the mine itself was ordered to pay a $1 million fine for violations of worker safety laws.