Mine owner pleads guilty in fraud case

Mine owner pleads guilty in fraud case

LEXINGTON – A coal mine operator in eastern Kentucky who has been accused of failing to pay more than $1 million in federal fines has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

Harold Simpson told companies that provided workers’ compensation insurance that he had only half as many employees as he really did, according to the charge. That meant he paid lower premiums, since they’re based largely on the number of employees at a mine.

Simpson, 56, of Ewing, Va., has operated mines in Perry, Bell and other Kentucky counties. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of mail fraud, based on mailing inaccurate payroll information to the three companies.

Federal documents said Simpson covered the scheme by paying employees partly in cash, wrote checks to fictitious people and gave false payroll records to three insurance companies between 1999 and June 2006.

Simpson’s attorney, Steven Reed of Louisville, could not be reached for comment.

Simpson was sued last year by the Mine Safety and Health Administration last year for not paying more than $1.1 million in fines for health and safety violations at his mines, dating back many years.

That was the most of any coal operator in the country, MSHA said.

Information from: news.cincypost.com

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