Skip to main content
Press Release

Former Courtesy Patrol Executive Sentenced for Bankruptcy Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

BECKLEY, W.Va. – Robert Martin, 67, of Beckley, was sentenced today to five years of federal probation and ordered to pay $205,802.49 in restitution for fraudulent receipt of property from a debtor. Martin admitted to paying himself without authorization while serving as the chief executive officer of the entity that operated the West Virginia Courtesy Patrol.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Martin was CEO of Citizens Conservation Corp (CCC) when it filed for bankruptcy on April 3, 2019. Martin formed CCC in 1993 and its primary source of income beginning in 1998 was a multimillion-dollar contract with the State of West Virginia to operate the Courtesy Patrol roadside assistance service. CCC became financially unstable after it lost that state contract in 2018, leading to the bankruptcy filing.

On May 2, 2019, Martin testified at a bankruptcy creditors meeting that CCC was not generating income, that he was not receiving a salary because of the lack of income, and that he expected CCC to be paid on some receivables owed to it. The United States Trustee, who oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases in the Southern District of West Virginia, told Martin that he was not allowed to take a salary as a controlling officer without U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval.

On May 8, 2019, CCC received more than $41,000 from the West Virginia Treasury, and the money was deposited in CCC’s bank account. Two days later, Martin caused $50,000 to be transferred from that bank account to an account at a different bank. Martin paid himself $32,072.76 from those transferred funds with six separate checks. Martin admitted that he did not seek or obtain U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval for those payments, even though he knew that was required. Martin further admitted that he did not get prior approval because he intended to hide these payments from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Martin also admitted that CCC knowingly misspent $108,751.60 it had received from the United States Department of Interior National Park Service (NPS) between September 10 and October 1, 2018. CCC entered into a cooperative agreement with NPS on November 20, 2014 to recruit, hire, train and place young adults for internship positions at national parks throughout the country. Funding made available under the agreement included $111,221.09 to hire and pay two interns to work at the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation for 13 months. Martin admitted that CCC did not hire or place any interns with that funding. Instead, CCC drew down all but $2,469.49 of that funding for unallowable CCC operating expenses following the loss of the Courtesy Patrol contract. Martin admitted that he knew that the funds were misapplied or fraudulently converted in this way.

The $205,802.49 in ordered restitution consists of $37,072.76 for the Bankruptcy Estate of CCC and $168,729.73 for the U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service. Martin paid the $37,072.76 owed to the Bankruptcy Estate on June 13, 2024.

CCC Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Douglas, 48, of Beckley, pleaded guilty on May 6, 2024 to theft from federal programs and awaits sentencing. Douglas admitted that CCC knowingly misspent the $108,752.60 received from NPS under the cooperative agreement.

“Mr. Martin held a position of trust within the bankruptcy proceedings. He abused that trust and then became unresponsive and uncooperative with the Bankruptcy Court,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “His pattern of avoidance, non-responsiveness, and flagrant disregard for the law makes his offense gravely serious.”

Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Interior-Office of Inspector General (DOI-OIG). The United States Trustee’s Charleston field office, which serves West Virginia, made the criminal referral of this case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The United States Trustee Program is a component of the Department of Justice whose mission is to promote the integrity and efficiency of the bankruptcy system for the benefit of all stakeholders — debtors, creditors and the public.

“Integrity, honesty, and transparency are foundational to the bankruptcy process, and the FBI and our partners stand together in upholding fairness and justice for our legal system,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek. “We will not allow those who choose deceit over truth to continue lining their own pockets at the public’s expense.”

“Chapter 11 requires debtors in possession of bankruptcy estate assets to be forthright with the court and with their creditors,” said Acting U.S. Trustee Gerard Vetter for Region 4, which includes West Virginia. “This case shows that the Justice Department and the U.S. Trustee Program will vigorously pursue those who divert estate assets and take money out of creditors’ pockets.”

“Mr. Martin knowingly misspent funds that should have been used to hire and pay interns working at national parks,” said DOI OIG Special Agent in Charge Katie Balestra. “The AUSA's office, the FBI, and DOI-OIG worked hard to achieve justice in this case.”

United States District Judge Frank W. Volk imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Holly Wilson prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:23-cr-147.




Updated June 28, 2024