A former Rocky Mountain Bank executive accused of defrauding his employer is denying a string of new charges.
Stephen Phillip Casher, 46, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Billings to 10 additional criminal counts, which boost his maximum possible penalties to more than $12 million in fines and 371 years in prison.
Casher was first indicted in May on four counts.
The new charges suggest Casher had more extensive dealings with former Signal Peak Mine executive Larry Price than previously known.
Price embezzled roughly $20 million from the mine and from Ninety M and Three Blind Mice, two limited liability companies made up of wealthy investors looking to fund coal projects. Price admitted charges in December 2018 and has seen his sentencing date repeatedly pushed back. It’s now set for August 2020.
Casher was a loan officer and market president at Rocky Mountain Bank, where he signed off on loans to Price. On the side, he invested money with Price using funds from unnamed entities he was involved with.
According to a civil filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia, Casher was in control of the bank account for Ninety M LLC, where he was an investor.
Price’s schemes involved telling investors that some coal equipment cost more than it did, and pocketing the difference. On one occasion, Price told investors that a land deal he’d brokered would cost $6.1 million, rather than the $2.1 million the seller had agreed to, and rerouted the extra $4 million to himself through the help of a Virginia law firm, criminal filings note.
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Prosecutors originally accused Casher of defrauding the bank twice by failing to disclose what he knew about Price’s financial liabilities. That included information on Price’s true net worth, cash liquidity and debt-to-income ratio.
The new indictment includes two additional bank fraud charges related to loans to Price.
Prosecutors now say Casher also under-reported Price’s financial liabilities when he approved a $100,000 increase to the limit on Price’s personal credit card in 2015.
And the new indictment lists two other people, identified only by the initials J.K. and T.K., as parties who benefited from Casher’s alleged bank fraud. Prosecutors say Casher approved a loan extension and waived certain conditions for J.K. and T.K. in 2016, without telling the bank he’d already invested privately in T.K. and J.K.’s businesses.
Casher is now charged with six counts each of bank fraud and false entry in bank books, as well as one count each of money laundering and blackmail.
Casher is accused of carrying out the blackmail between April 23 and May 17, 2018. Prosecutors say Casher demanded and received interest in real estate from a John Doe by threatening to tell authorities about wire fraud activity.
Casher is also accused of laundering the proceeds from bank fraud between April 15 and June 24, 2015.
Casher attorney Mark Parker did not return a request for comment Tuesday.