William Mercer sentenced on multiple charges

Brian Stockman
Staff Writer

RIDGWAY –– The Honorable Richard A. Masson, President Judge, sentenced William Mercer to 90 days of incarceration in the Elk County Prison on Friday with work release privileges, three months of house arrest after release from prison, four years of County Intermediate Punishment, followed by six years of probation on charges of theft, fraud and conspiracy.
What is County Intermediate Punishment? This program is a restrictive program with a high level of supervision, but it allows for those employed to keep their regular work schedule, and those unemployed to obtain employment or education. Other components are: A sentence to either a maximum of 90 days in jail or house arrest in some cases a combination of both, followed by a period of probation, intensive supervision by the probation department, random drug/alcohol testing, cooperation with the terms and conditions of the probation department, community service hours and payments for house arrest and electronic monitoring.
This program was designed to help offenders who would otherwise be incarcerated in the Elk County Prison to keep their jobs, obtain treatment, and otherwise lead a fairly normal daily life. Those sentenced to this program will be required to fulfill the requirements including participating in treatment, attending appointments, and completing community service hours ordered by the court. Consequences are imposed for program violations. Major violations can result in being incarcerated and brought back before the court for re-sentencing.
The Mercer case started in the heyday of the Marcellus Shale boom of early 2011. Mercer along with five other partners formed MCM Trucking in order to provide water trucks and the drivers to the oil companies that were exploring the area. William Mercer, owner of Mercer Tire and Auto, would provide service to the trucks at his shop which served as MCM Trucking headquarters in Ridgway on the Montmorenci Road. With a fleet of over 25 trucks at one time, MCM secured a contract with Shell to provide them with their services. Poor management, including absenteeism and inability to communicate led to MCM being terminated within only a few months. Also at this time, Mercer Tire and Auto was informed by the Ridgway borough manager, that they would no longer be able to work on MCM Trucks out in the open at that location.
At this point stories diverge, with the Mercer's insisting that the partners in MCM Trucking agreed to share the costs to put an extension on Mercer Auto and the owners of MCM Trucking asserting that they did not agree with this plan.
The Mercers began construction on the addition to the auto repair shop, with both Kristen Mercer who was secretary and William Mercer paying for a good deal of the construction with MCM Trucking funds. In addition to this many checks that were signed for from MCM trucking were signed by Kristen Mercer forging the signatures of the partners in MCM Trucking. Again stories diverge as to if she had been granted this privilege, the Mercers and several of their witnesses saying yes, while again the owners say no. After the loss of the very lucrative Shell contract, MCM began to have serious financial issues and had to divest themselves of the trucks and the payments on them with no available work to bill against. While many were sold off the Mercers transferred several vehicles from MCM to Mercer Auto ownership and then rented them back to MCM trucking for the few local jobs they were receiving. The MCM owners claimed no knowledge of this and said it made no sense that they would agree to this state of affairs. Again the Mercers say that this was agreed to after they could find no buyers for the remaining trucks.
Around this time Brittany Mercer, the daughter of William, decided to leave the company after being employed there for over a year. In leaving she compiled a listing of all the bills for the building of the Mercer Auto Extension that had been billed to MCM Trucking and presented that to the owners. The owners quickly launched their own investigation, gathering evidence until they felt comfortable in approaching the police in 2013.
Officer Justin Bolden was assigned this investigation and took several months to compile evidence and speak to witnesses until he presented it to the district attorney, who filed charges. In an election year that DA lost and the current DA, Shawn McMahon, took his place. In looking over the evidence, McMahon did not feel it was enough at that time to secure a conviction and thus began a re-investigation. Charges were once again filed in 2016 after a search warrant was issued and other evidence gathered in 2015.
In a trial earlier this year, Kristin Lynn Mercer was found not guilty on all but one count by the jury in the fraud case that has hung over her head for the better part of seven years. Only on Count 35, Statute 18 § 3922 §§ A1, Grade M1: theft by deception-false impression was she found guilty. This charge concerned her transfer of a "water truck" valued at over $125,000 from MCM Trucking to Mercer Auto and Tire, which was later sold at a profit to Asel Enterprises of Kane. Kristin Mercer was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest as well as five years on probation and unspecified restitution.
The former owners of MCM trucking addressed the court before the sentence was announced, describing their financial losses, and their loss of trust in a man they once called "friend". In total the owners have had to pay off over $1.1 million in debts and losses, causing great harm to themselves and their families.

For full article, check the Dec. 29, 2018 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican