The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 23, 2009

Big-game ranch in crosshairs of probe

The Tribune-Democrat has learned that federal raids on the businesses and homes of Bill and Ron Kuchera are focused on a potential misuse of corporate funds.

Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems of Windber were raided by agents from three federal agencies on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Officials from all of the involved federal agencies remained mum on the situation.

But a source close to the investigation told The Tribune-Democrat that the investigation is focused on the actions of the corporate officers. The source said the investigation is examining the alleged use of corporate funds for unapproved purposes.

Multiple sources have told The Tribune-Democrat that part of the investigation is looking into the financing of LBK Game Ranch in Croyle Township.

The 161-acre ranch is a private business owned by CEO Bill Kuchera.

Customers at the ranch pay a fee for the opportunity to hunt big game. The ranch, which includes a lodge to house guests, shares the same address as Bill Kuchera’s home.

Records show that the LBK Game Ranch generates estimated annual sales of $150,000.

The ranch often is used to entertain Kuchera clients and suppliers.

During each of the past two years, the company has held a welcome party for clients, suppliers and other VIPs preceding the annual Showcase for Commerce.

In the fall, LBK Game Ranch was the site of a high-end fundraiser benefiting the campaign of U.S. Rep. John Murtha, D-Johnstown.

Sources tell The Tribune-Democrat that the one-night event raised as much as $100,000.

The Kuchera companies on Friday issued a statement through their attorney, Dennis McGlynn.

In the statement, Kuchera said that numerous books and records were seized by the government, but officials were not aware of any discrepancies.

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