Four Plead Guilty in Investigation into Postal Service Vehicle Maintenance

Four Plead Guilty to Tax Charges in Investigation into Postal Service Vehicle Maintenance

PROVIDENCE, RI – Four individuals pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence to federal tax charges arising out of an investigation into payments to vendors who performed maintenance on United States Postal Service vehicles in Rhode Island, announced United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch, Matthew Modafferi, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, and Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Kristina O’Connell.

On Friday, June 1, 2018, Ronald Long, 54, and Cheryl Melton Long, 48, of Warwick, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.

On May 23, 2018, Gary Neirinckx, 60, a now retired Postmaster from Warwick, pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return.

On February 22, 2018, Donald Tonks, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of failure to file a tax return.

According to information presented to the Court, the cases originated as a fraud investigation related to billing by companies controlled by Ronald and Cheryl Long, which functioned as vendors to the United States Postal Service by providing mechanical repair work to Postal Service vehicles. The Longs’ business utilized various corporate names, however virtually all of the Long’s business derived from work performed on United States Postal Service vehicles. By dollar amount, the Longs’ businesses were the largest non-fuel vendor of the Postal Service in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2014. Ronald Long directed and controlled the business; Cheryl Long was primarily responsible for maintaining financial records and paying bills.

Gary Neirinckx was a Postal service employee who held various roles with the Postal Service including Postmaster in Warwick.  In 2015, while still employed by the Postal Service, Neirinckx opened a business in Warwick co-owned by Ron and Cheryl Long. Neirinckx had utilized Long’s services at the Warwick Post Office and subsequently referred the Longs to other postmasters.

A review by investigators of the Longs’ bank records between 2010 and 2015, showed that the Longs were paying nearly all of their personal living expenses out of their business bank account, including rent for their residence, utilities, expenses related to their children and expenses related to their boat. The investigation also revealed the Longs were paying employees in cash and that a series of checks were found to be made out to cash and with the notation of “G” on the memo line. The investigation revealed that the checks were cashed and the same amounts were simultaneously deposited into Neirinckx’s personal bank account by Cheryl Long.

            At the time of his guilty plea, Neirinckx admitted that he recommended the Longs and their mechanical services to other postmasters, but that he never ordered work be sent their way. In return for doing so he accepted payment from the Longs. The investigation determined that the Longs paid Neirinckx $66,300, which he failed to report as income on his tax returns. Neirinckx also admitted that deductions for charitable contributions he reported on his tax returns were fabricated.

Ronald and Cheryl Long provided false information to their tax return preparer which resulted in the filing of false tax returns, which did not accurately report their individual and household income.  The Long’s did not file a federal income tax return for the year 2011, and filed various false corporate and income tax returns for the years 2012 through 2015.

Donald Tonks was an employee of the Longs until approximately September 2014, when he and the Longs agreed to divide the business with the Postal Service.  Tonks started his own business and generally took over services for post offices in southern Rhode Island, such as South Kingstown, Wakefield, Charlestown and Westerly. Around the time Tonks started working for the Longs, he stopped filing federal income tax returns, despite being required to do so.

On May 23, 2018, Donald Tonks was sentenced by United States Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond to two years probation, ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, and pay full restitution to the IRS in the amount of $92,624.

            Gary Neirinckx is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith on September 7, 2018.  Ronald Long and Cheryl Long are scheduled to be sentenced by Chief Judge William E. Smith on September 28, 2018.

The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys John P. McAdams and Denise M. Barton.  The matter was investigated by the United States Postal Service-Office of Inspector General, and the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division.