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Former manager of Consol's land office charged with 60 counts of mail fraud

| Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, 1:30 p.m.

The former land records general manager for Consol Energy Inc. swindled the company out of about $440,000 in gas royalties, federal prosecutors say in charges filed on Monday.

Scott D. Hamilton, 37, of Marshall is charged with 60 counts of mail fraud. Each count carries a possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

His attorney, Steven Townsend, said his client has a plea agreement with the government and plans to plead guilty to the charges.

The court has not set a date for the hearing.

While working for the Cecil-based energy company in 2009, Hamilton set up a fictitious company, PRH LLC, using his driver's license and what was then his home address in Houston, Pa., prosecutors say. He operated the company out of a Canonsburg post office box.

He then allegedly filed deed transfers on an 1,100-acre parcel in Fayette County, W.Va., and a 95-acre parcel in Christian County, Ill. The documents gave 50 percent of Consol's interest in the two properties to PRH.

To convince officials in the two counties that the transfers were legit, he forged the signature of a registered notary public, prosecutors say. He allegedly made up two people and signed their names to the documents: “Michael Lewis,” a PRH company representative and “Art Follage,” a Denver attorney.

After the deed transfers went through, he had the companies that processed royalty payments on the two properties send the checks to an account for PRH, prosecutors say.

In 2010, he transferred both deeds to his wife's name and put through another deed transfer claiming the rest of Consol's interest in the Illinois property for PRH. In 2011, he transferred that interest to his wife's name, prosecutors say.

His wife has not been charged.

The scheme was uncovered when Consol discovered it was missing royalties, said company spokeswoman Kate O'Donovan.

“Upon investigating and determining that an employee was misdirecting royalty checks into a personal account, the matter was immediately turned over to the appropriate authorities,” she said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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