A former Billings mansion owner with deep ties to the coal industry has pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud, money laundering and lying to federal investigators.
Larry Wayne Price Jr., 38, admitted to the charges Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Billings, as part of an amended plea agreement filed by prosecutors earlier in the day. He pleaded guilty to three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of making false statements to federal investigators.
Price is a former vice president of surface mining activities at Signal Peak Energy, a company that operates a coal mine near Roundup, and has been associated with other businesses in Montana and Virginia. He is also known locally as the man behind a more than $10 million, 26,000-square-foot mansion that is the largest residential building ever constructed in Billings.
For each of the three counts of wire fraud, Price faces up to 20 years in prison. The conspiracy charge also has a maximum sentence of 20 years, and lying to federal investigators carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Price must also pay back more than $20 million in restitution for financial activity that defrauded three companies over an 18-month span that ended this April, under the agreement’s terms.
Included in the terms of Price’s restitution is a lengthy forfeiture agreement that spans five properties in Montana — including his West End mansion — a property in Virginia, an unspecified amount of jewelry purchased after his financial fraud began, a motor home, six boats and four boat trailers.
A sentencing date has not been set in the case. Price was released pending sentencing.
In court documents filed Monday, federal prosecutors wrote that Price and several other people "routinely conducted financial transactions designed to mask" more than $20 million Price stole from three companies during a roughly 18-month span ending in April.
It’s unclear whether federal prosecutors plan to charge others in connection to the conspiracy. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Billings declined to comment on whether any other charges are forthcoming.