News and Press Releases

William Barry Van Hook Sentenced in U.S. District Cour

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on October 5, 2011, before Senior U.S. District Judge Jack D. Shanstrom, WILLIAM BARRY VAN HOOK, a 55-year-old resident of Sidney, appeared for sentencing. VAN HOOK was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 6 months - plus an additional 6 months of home arrest

Special Assessment: $100

Fine: $10,000

Restitution: $215,900.72

Community Service: 250 hours

Supervised Release: 1 year

VAN HOOK was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to filing false tax returns.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. Archer, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

VAN HOOK owns and operates Exploration Drilling in Sidney. During the course of another law enforcement investigation, VAN HOOK was interviewed regarding diesel fuel and other equipment that he was receiving from employees who were employed by Basic Energy. VAN HOOK stated that he bartered with the employees for goods and equipment. In the course of determining the value of goods received by VAN HOOK, agents discovered that VAN HOOK had substantial unreported taxable income. Ultimately, VAN HOOK diverted what should have been corporate receipts to himself and failed to report funds on his federal income tax returns which resulted in a tax loss of approximately $174,000.

The Exploration Drilling books were kept in a Quickbooks program that documented income and funds received in the Stockman Bank corporate business account. These records were turned over to a tax preparer in order to generate VAN HOOK's tax return. Investigative interviews revealed several local businesses and individuals that purchased goods and equipment from VAN HOOK and wrote checks to Exploration Drilling or, on occasion, VAN HOOK would instruct the customers to make checks payable to his wife.

Records of numerous checks made to VAN HOOK's wife and/or Exploration Drilling in this manner were traced to a separate Wells Fargo Bank account. VAN HOOK did not inform his tax return preparer that he was depositing income checks into the account at Wells Fargo in addition to outright cashing them, and never informed the preparer that not all of his income was being deposited into his Stockman Bank corporate account. VAN HOOK also failed to inform his tax return preparer that he was involved in selling equipment to others, or that he was involved in a bartering arrangement with employees of Basic Energy.

Although VAN HOOK knew that not all of his income was being reported on his tax return, his 2006 return contains his signature affirming its accuracy under penalty of perjury. In the end, law enforcement agents were able to track VAN HOOK's full income for the 2006 tax year and determined that VAN HOOK should have reported an additional $406,146.27 in other income received for that tax year. This amount of omitted and concealed income was material to the preparation of his return as it resulted in a significant amount of additional tax that was due and owing.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that VAN HOOK will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, VAN HOOK does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.



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