BROOKNEAL, Va. (WRIC) — A Virginia lumber magnate pleaded guilty this week to stealing Medicare and social security taxes from his employees in Halifax county for at least seven years.

According to a statement by James Edward Adams, 65, made as part of his plea agreement, he took over the Adams Lumber Company, his family’s lumber mill in Halifax County, in 2011. The very next year, the IRS opened an investigation into the business after he failed to pay certain taxes.

The IRS was unsuccessful in collecting the taxes then, and over the next few years, Adams began using a series of five shell companies to pay his employees.

Now, Adams has admitted that from 2014 to 2021, he withheld social security and Medicare taxes from his employees’ pay — a common practice — but instead of sending the money to the IRS, pocketed it to the tune of $598,800.

The Adams Lumber mill was also in the news in 2019 when an office building at the lumber mill burned down in the middle of the night.

At the time, the cause of the fire was undetermined. 8News is still awaiting information on the outcome of the investigation into the Adams Lumber fire.

Adams now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the charge of tax evasion.