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Franklin Furnace man among four indicted in DirecTV scheme

PADUCAH, Ky.-- A federal grand jury in Paducah recently returned an indictment charging a Franklin Furnace resident and three others with manufacturing, selling and distributing illegal DirecTV access cards.

Gregory Chaffin, 51, has not been arrested yet, said Hancy Jones III, an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Kentucky.

Others named in the indictment are: Michael C. Hill, 48, of Iva S.C.; Jeffery Lynn Sanders, 51, of Bell Buckle, Tenn.; and William Charles Rath, 61, of Ontario, Canada.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the defendants are also charged with engaging in a conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(h). The indictment also contains a forfeiture count.

The indictment charges that between March 1, 1996 and January 22, 1997, Rath headed an international conspiracy to design, manufacture, and distribute the devices throughout North America, according to a release from DirecTV. Rath allegedly took orders for the devices in Canada, then had the product manufactured and distributed by the three U.S. defendants.

Chaffin and the two other defendants were allegedly instructed to wire payments to an offshore bank account in the Turks and Caicos Islands established by Rath. During an investigation by the DirecTV Office of Signal Integrity, information about the account was uncovered, resulting in subpeonas for Rath’s bank records.

If convicted, the maximum penalties are 35 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, and supervised release for three years.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and the IRS.

An extradition hearing is scheduled for Rath. He, Chaffin, Sanders, and Hill are scheduled to appear for an arraignment before the United States Magistrate Judge July 31 at 9:30 a.m. in Paducah, Ky. Amelia Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune