North Carolina Man Sentenced for Making A False Statement to Federal Representative
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Michael James Peters, 42, of Concord, North Carolina, was sentenced today to one year in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, for lying to the United States Department of Agriculture regarding the Nicholas County coal he pledged as collateral for a $9 million USDA-backed business loan. Peters must also pay $1,375,000 in restitution and a $25,000 fine.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Peters was part owner, president, and operator of Taylor Rose Energy (TRE). On July 24, 2014, TRE obtained a $9,065,165 loan from a Georgia bank to buy out investors’ interest in approximately 146,954 tons of cannel coal in Dixie, Nicholas County. In support of the loan, TRE represented that it intended to convert the coal into “smokeless” coal briquettes for consumer coal-burning home heating systems in Ireland. The USDA Rural Development Business and Industry loan program guaranteed 90 percent of the loan.
By January 2015, Peters owed more than $1.3 million to the owner and operator of another coal company, Aces High Coal Sales Inc. of London, Kentucky. From February 2015 to April 2015, Peters allowed Aces High to remove more than 80,000 tons of the collateralized coal from the Dixie site to settle this debt. Peters was unable to repay the USDA-backed loan, and did not inform the Georgia bank that coal pledged as the loan’s collateral was being taken to address the debt to Aces High.
Peters told the Georgia bank that 90 percent of the coal was “missing” from the Dixie site. On May 8, 2015, representatives from the bank and the USDA visited the Dixie site to investigate the removal of the collateralized coal. Peters falsely told USDA and bank representatives that Aces High had removed the coal from the site without his permission. At the plea hearing, Peters admitted that he lied to the USDA representative during this site visit in order to redirect the focus of the investigation away from his own conduct.
Peters pleaded guilty to making a false statement to a representative of the United States Department of Agriculture. United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Office of Inspector General (USDA OIG).
United States District Judge Irene C. Berger imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorney Andrew J. Tessman 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. 2:22-cr-159.
Updated February 2, 2023