The Kickback Mine
It was a typically slow day at the Bellville, West Virginia, Residency Agency of the FBI where I served as a Special Agent. Being the only agent with an accounting background, I was the designated white-collar specialist when new cases arose. I received a call from Crimson Mine’s general counsel, George Brent, who told me about the recent discovery that one of their vendors had been overbilling them and he wanted to prosecute. My first thought was that this would be a routine matter of greed by a vendor and I would just need to look at how much was taken and try to get the vendor to confess. However, during the course of my investigation, additional suspects were developed, the scheme took a turn in a new direction, and the “bad guy” turned out to be likable and as much a victim as he was a suspect. It would also be one of the largest frauds to ever occur in Bellville.
The Crimson Mine had been a major employer in the region for more than 40 years. However, recently two of the three mines had closed, which resulted in a loss of jobs in the area. Crimson had been purchased a couple of years prior by a large public company, Diversified Holdings, Inc. It had its own hotline, and the new telephone number was posted in the break room and other places at the mine. Moreover, it subcontracted out mine support construction to local vendors so that Crimson could focus on mining. Over the years, the company had several different vendors, ...