BLUEFIELD — A Mercer County woman who embezzled almost a million dollars and used part of it to fund a daughter’s cupcake bakery faces up to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to federal charges of wire fraud and making a false statement on a tax return.
Roseanna Coomes, 67, of Brushfork appeared in federal court before Senior United States District Judge David A. Faber for a plea hearing. In this plea, Coomes gave up the right to be indicted by a grand jury and pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making a false statement on a tax return. Both charges are felonies.
Wire fraud carries a possible penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervision after being released. False statement on a tax return has a penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Faber, who conditionally accepted the agreement pending a pre-sentencing investigation, told Coomes she could face 23 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. She could be required to pay restitution as well.
Assistant United States Attorney Tim Boggess told the court that between January 2007 and June 13, 2017, Coomes wrote checks to herself ranging from $50 to $20,000 while working as the office manager for Cole Truck Parts, Inc. A total of $969,316 was embezzled.
The second charge involved a tax return filed on April 15, 2016, in which Coomes failed to report the money embezzled from Cole Truck Parts, Boggess said. This involved a sum of $64,330 in taxes.
“Are you pleading guilty because you are in fact guilty of these two charges?” Faber asked Coomes as she stood beside her attorney, Derrick Lefler.
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
In previous reports in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Detective K.L. Adams of the Bluefield Police Department said in his criminal complaint that Coomes issued checks totaling more than $54,000 to her daughter, Jessica Coomes Johnson, during a one-and-a-half-year period. Jessica Johnson opened a bakery, Cupcake Kisses, along Athens Road near Princeton in October 2016.
In an October 2016 Princeton Times story, Johnson spoke of “working up the courage” to open Cupcake Kisses.
“It was very hard,” Johnson told the Times. “My husband and I both prayed about it and what we should do. Once we did that and really looked at things, it was like everything just fell into place. Business is good, and everything is going well.”
Johnson was arrested in August 2017 and charged with embezzlement.
Faber placed Coomes, who requires a cane, on a $10,000 unsecured bond after determining that she was not a flight risk or a threat to the community. Sentencing will take place in June. Before adjourning, Faber warned Coomes to “scrupulously” follow her bond’s terms, and said that failing to appear for sentencing would be a separate felony under federal law.
Adams said in his criminal complaint that Coomes was “pretty much paying the whole family’s bills with this” and that she had admitted to stealing the money and was “sorry for her actions.” She said that she did not realize that she had taken so much money and “had every intention of paying back the money she had stolen from Mr. Cole.”
Tom Cole, a former Bluefield mayor, owns Cole Truck Parts. He attended Thursday’s hearing, but declined to comment.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org