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Springfield, MO

Trucking company owners convicted for defrauding Tracker Marine

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The owners of a Lebanon trucking company were convicted at trial yesterday for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud Tracker Marine LLC, a Springfield-based boat and trailer manufacturer operating under the umbrella of Bass Pro Shops.

J&M Trucking Inc. owners James Ivey, 52, and his wife, Melinda Ivey, 43, both of Lebanon, were found guilty of all counts that were handed down in a February indictment, according to a news release from the office of the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

From January 2006 to April 2009, the Iveys and co-defendant Paul Hunting - a 39-year-old former resident of Lebanon and ex-transportation manager for Tracker that pleaded guilty to his role in March - schemed to defraud the Springfield marine manufacturer by inflating purchase orders and shipping invoices. During the time frame of the scheme, the defendants caused more than 2,550 fraudulent invoices to be submitted to Tracker, causing financial harm of at least $924,101.

Tracker Marine contracted with J&M to transport boats and trailers to the Springfield company's North American dealers. Through the contractual agreement, J&M was compensated by Tracker based mostly on the distance its trucks traveled. By listing inflated and false number of billable miles on purchase orders, Hunting caused Tracker to exceed payments due to J&M. In exchange, James Ivey paid Hunting a portion of the extra revenue gained fraudulently. Hunting was paid $265,775 for his part in the scheme from 2006-08, according to the release.

Initially, there was no set amount for the increases in billable miles on the purchase orders. In April 2006, Ivey and Hunting agreed on a set amount of 158 miles to be added to each purchase order, resulting in an additional $300 per trip based on the reimbursable rate of $1.90 per mile. The defendants split the additional funding evenly three ways, and when Tracker increased its reimbursement rate to $2.10 per mile in January 2007, the defendants continued using the 158-mile inflation mark.

The release noted that J&M drivers did not receive extra funding, but were paid for the actual miles they drove.

James and Melinda Ivey also were found guilty of a money laundering conspiracy, since they paid Hunting in cash. On federal income taxes, the Iveys claimed the payments to Hunting represented a percentage of revenue generated by two trucks Hunting owned and leased to J&M, which was false.

The Iveys also together were convicted for nine counts of wire fraud, and James Ivey was convicted of an additional 10 counts of wire fraud. They also each were convicted of one count of making false statements to federal agents, the release said.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mohlhenrich and was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.[[In-content Ad]]

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