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Former Quechee resident signs plea agreement in payroll fraud case

  • Ryan Wall, left, arrives with Assistant Federal Public Defender David McColgin at U.S. District Court in Burlington, Vt., on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Glenn Russell photograph) Glenn Russell photograph

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 12/4/2019 9:58:15 PM
Modified: 12/4/2019 9:58:06 PM

BURLINGTON — A former Quechee resident has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud as part of a scheme to embezzle $1.2 million over six years from clients of a payroll services and tax firm in West Lebanon.

Ryan M. Wall, 41, has signed a nine-page plea agreement in which he admits to pocketing money from clients of Twin State Business Services between March 2012 and early 2018. His in-laws at the time ran the business.

If the deal is accepted by a federal judge, Wall would consent to a $1.2 million money judgment against him, U.S. District Court records show.

A related drug and firearms charge would be dismissed under the terms of the plea deal. That charge maintains Wall was in illegal possession of three firearms in August 2018 while being an unlawful drug user and addicted to oxycodone, heroin and crack cocaine.

The firearms listed in the indictment are a 9-mm rifle, a 9mm pistol and a .22-caliber Marlin rifle.

There is no agreement by the prosecution and defense about a sentence.

The maximum penalty for wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison and up to three years of supervised release. He also faces up to a $250,000 fine, the plea agreement said. There also is a mandatory restitution order, although whether Wall has the means to repay his former clients is unclear. The court provided him a federal public defender.

Wall pleaded not guilty in May to the two-count indictment. There is no date set for the change of plea.

The plea deal also mandates that Wall provide a truthful financial statement on a form provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office within 30 days of entering his guilty plea.

The agreement also calls for no other known possible federal criminal charges to be filed in Vermont. The agreement says it would not be binding on other federal, state or local prosecutors, including in New Hampshire.

Wall, who was living in Tampa, Fla., when indicted, is accused of stealing the money from clients of TSBS — doing business as AccounTax — through fraudulent wire transfers.

Dozens of businesses — many of them small, family-run operations in the Upper Valley and beyond — were impacted. The criminal case began to unfold when the Internal Revenue Service and the state tax departments in Vermont or New Hampshire went after local businesses for non-payment of taxes.

Several businesses have told the Valley News they learned they still needed to pay the taxes that Wall had withheld. Instead the pilfered money was used by the defendant to help fund his drug habit with a former colleague, who died by suicide after agreeing to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Jeffrey “Iffy” Koloski, 52, of White River Junction, had agreed in April to plead guilty to a felony charge of helping with the illegal distribution of heroin and oxycodone between July 2012 and August 2018 in Vermont and elsewhere, public records show.

Koloski was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound next to a vehicle in a parking area off Old River Road in White River Junction on April 22, Hartford Police said.

Under questioning by U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy at his arraignment on May 16, Wall was asked about treatment for his possible drug addiction. Wall reported he had entered a drug-treatment center in September 2018 and successfully completed both inpatient and outpatient programs by February. Wall told the court he had maintained sobriety since Sept. 10, 2018.

Conroy released Wall on conditions and allowed him to return to Florida while his defense worked on the case.

The possibility of Wall avoiding a criminal trial first surfaced publicly on Aug. 14, the deadline for pre-trial motions.

Wall’s attorney, David McColgin, successfully asked for 60 more days because he said he needed additional time to review more than 5,000 pages of documents turned over by the prosecution “and to explore a non-trial disposition.”

As that extended deadline expired, McColgin petitioned for an additional 45 days citing the same two reasons. Chief Federal Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford set Nov. 27 as the new deadline. The plea deal was filed this week. McColgin declined to comment on it when contacted by a reporter on Wednesday.

Wall grew up in Barnard and graduated from Woodstock Union High School in 1995. He went on to the former Johnson State College, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2000.

Mike Donoghue can be reached at vermontnewsfirst@gmail.com.


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