Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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January 8, 2014

Former mining businessman sentenced to 16 months in ‘selling cash’ scheme

BLUEFIELD — A former mining supply businessman was sentenced Tuesday to federal prison after pleading guilty in July 2013 to structuring thousands of dollars in bank transactions.

Michael J. Prasatek, Sr., 67, of Bluefield, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin. The sentence was handed down by Senior United States District Court Judge David A. Faber.

Prasatek, a former businessman who managed several supply companies in and around southern West Virginia since 1978, knowingly provided a coal mine operator with bogus invoices in a scheme known as “selling cash,” according to a release Goodwin issued Tuesday.

During the scheme, in exchange for fake supply invoices, Prasatek received a check in the amount of the fictitious invoice and later deposited the money into his personal bank account, Goodwin said. Prasatek then returned the cash to his associate for a fee. Prasatek knew that the false invoice could be used for unlawful purposes such as filing a false tax deduction.

To further his scheme, Prasatek opened up checking accounts at two McDowell County banks using the names “Michael Prasatek DBA Prestige Paving & Sealing” and “Michael Prasatek DBA Quality Services” and routinely structured cash withdrawals, Goodwin said. “Structuring” involves the breaking down of cash transactions in amounts of $10,000 or less for the purpose of avoiding a financial institution’s reporting requirements to the IRS.

Prasatek admitted that beginning in May 2010 until December 2011, he structured several cash transactions totaling approximately $55,000 to intentionally avoid the mandatory financial reporting requirements, Goodwin said.

The court also sentenced Prasatek to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $3,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by the IRS.  Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Ryan handled the prosecution.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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