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Southwest Virginia coal company worker sentenced in plot to defraud Eastman

May 19th, 2014 11:32 pm by Matthew Lane

Southwest Virginia coal company worker sentenced in plot  to defraud Eastman

GREENEVILLE — A 48-year-old Wise, Va., man has been sentenced to one year in prison for lying to a federal grand jury in connection with a scheme of falsifying coal samples for Eastman Chemical Co.

David Wayne Grigsby received the 12-month prison sentence on May 12 after being convicted by a jury on three counts of making false statements to a federal grand jury.

Grigsby was also sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine. Prosecutors had argued for an 18 to 21 month sentence; Grigsby's attorney urged for probation or a time-served sentence.

According to court records, the grand jury was investigating whether coal brokers were committing fraud by submitting "non-representative" samples of coal to a testing service in an attempt to deceive Eastman.

The scheme essentially aimed to sell lower quality coal to Eastman for full price.

Evidence presented during the jury trial showed Grigsby falsely testified he had no knowledge of a fraud scheme involving Eastman and denied any involvement in the collection of false samples of coal that were submitted to an independent testing service.

Grigsby, a foreman at Hills Fuel in Appalachia, Va., testified the company used SGS North America and Standard Labs as its testing services. The grand jury asked Grigsby if he ever told an inspector how to get his sample together.

"No, I mean, hell, it's his job. I'm supposed to tell a man how to do his job?" Grigsby testified.

However, audio recordings played during the jury trial demonstrated Grigsby had been involved in the fraud scheme by directing employees of SGS to submit false samples of coal for testing.

In October 2010, Eastman stopped doing business with Hills Fuels due to coal quality concerns, and in March 2011, True Energy was formed by Grigsby's brother Darrell and began selling coal to Eastman.

Anthony Wells, a former employee of SGS North America, admitted to the FBI he had been bribed by Gus Hill — the owner of Hills Fuel — to collect non-representative samples of coal for the Eastman contract, being paid $200 to $300 per sample.

Court records state Grigsby or Hill instructed Wells about what coal to include in each sample for the Eastman contract.

Grigsby faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to a pre-sentence report filed by his attorney, Grigsby is currently in Chapter 13 bankruptcy with more than $125,000 in liabilities. 

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