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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Former Signal Peak Energy mine manager sentenced in wire fraud conspiracy

BILLINGS—A former manager at the Signal Peak Energy coal mine in Musselshell County was sentenced today to two years of probation and ordered to forfeit an RV and a Rolex watch for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the company of about $2.3 million, U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme said.

Zachary Madison Ruble, 40, of Billings, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Chief U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen presided. Judge Christensen also ordered the forfeiture of a 2016 Thor Vegas RV and a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch.

In court records filed in the case, the prosecution said Ruble, who was the surface manager at Signal Peak Energy’s coal mine near Roundup, conspired with others to buy coal mining equipment from Peter’s Equipment Company, located in Virginia, knowing that PEC would not actually provide the equipment to Signal Peak.

In March 2017, Ruble reported to Larry Price, Jr., the mine’s vice president of Surface Operations, and both men were involved in budgeting and requesting funds for surface activities. Ruble and Price fraudulently induced Signal Peak to buy equipment from PEC, which then funneled the money back to Price through an account registered to 3 Solutions, a company Price controlled. Ruble knew the transaction was fraudulent and helped accomplish it by accepting several fraudulent invoices from PEC and submitting them for payment to Signal Peak’s controller, who was responsible for disbursing the money. 

The controller issued a series of checks to PEC totaling $2,396,134. The entire amount was a fraud against Signal Peak and most of the money was spent illegitimately by Price and others associated with him. For Ruble’s participation in the scheme, Price gave him a $25,000 check and a 2016 Thor Vegas RV.

Price has pleaded guilty to charges in the case and is awaiting sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin Rubich, Zeno Baucus and Tim Tatarka prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

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Clair Johnson Howard Public Information Officer 406-247-4623
Updated October 29, 2019