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Former Orchard Park businessman sentenced in Customs fraud

William Nehill, 70, of Orchard Park was ordered Wednesday by Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny to serve 90 days in federal prison, spend two years on supervised release and pay the U.S. government $6,246,605 for his role in an international metals customs fraud involving Chinese magnesium powder that cheated the U.S. government out of a Customs duty loss of nearly $6.3 million.

Nehill, who pleaded guilty five years ago to conspiracy to smuggle merchandise into the U.S., was sentenced a day after Pennsylvania businessman Gregory Magness, 67 and his son, Justin Magness,39, were sentenced in the same scheme. Nehill, through his company which imported specialty metals, was convicted of helping Gregory Magness beat a 305.56 percent anti-dumping duty on Chinese magnesium powder in the early part of this century. Magness sold the magnesium powder to the federal government for the use by the U.S. military for flare products.

Magness of Polk, Pa, was sent to federal prison for 18 months and ordered by Skretny to also reimburse the U.S. government nearly $6.3 million for his crime. The younger Magness was placed on probation and ordered to make a $4500 payment to the federal government for the fraud. Last July Skretny sentenced Utah businessman Eldon Bott, 67, of Brigham City, Utah, to two years probation and ordered him to forfeit $55,660 and pay a $5,000 fine for his role in the Magness-lead customs fraud.

U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr., said “this case revealed the extent to which some individuals sought to evade the country’s importation laws, while risking the lives of American war fighters in the process.” Hochul said Nehill’s sentencing “concludes this particular prosecution.”