Missouri trucking co. owners jailed in $800,000 billing scheme

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Missouri couple who own a trucking company will serve several years behind bars for their role in a scheme to falsely pad freight bills for a major boat and trailer manufacturer.

James and Melinda Ivey, owners of Lebanon-MO-based J&M Trucking Inc., were sentenced May 10 to serve time in federal prison without parole and pay $797,325 in restitution, according to a news release from the office of Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Missouri’s Western District. James Keith Ivey will serve five years and 10 months in federal prison, and Melinda Kay Ivey will serve two years and six months behind bars.

The Iveys were found guilty of fraud conspiracy during an August 2012 bench trial.

Tracker had contracted with J&M to haul boats and trailers to Tracker dealers throughout North America. Court documents show James and Melinda Ivey conspired with Paul Ray Hunting, a transportation manager with Tracker.

The Iveys paid Hunting $265,775 during the scheme between 2006 and 2008. J&M paid its drivers for the amount they actually drove, but they added about $300 worth of false mileage to its bills to Tracker, court documents state. 

In April 2006, the news release says, the three agreed to inflate each purchase order to Tracker by 158 miles because the $1.90 per-mile reimbursement rate would tally an additional $300 per trip. The 158 miles in false additional billing continued after the mileage rate increased to $2.10 in January 2007.

The two Iveys and Hunting then split the proceeds.

Prosecutors initially indicted the three in February 2012 on 24 counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud, money laundering and incorrect statements.

Hunting pleaded guilty in March 2012 to three charges tied to the case, including fraud, money-laundering and failure to make an income tax return for 2007. He also agreed to pay Tracker $265,775 in restitution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich and was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation division.

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