Texas Lawyer Gets 20 Years for Felony Theft

     DALLAS (CN) - A Texas attorney was sentenced to 20 years in state prison for scamming investors out of $1.3 million in nonexistent oil and gas projects.
     Kelly Gordon Rogers, 55, of Frisco, also was fined $10,000.
     A Collin County jury convicted him of first-degree felony theft on May 23. He was indicted in May 2012 on two counts of money laundering, two counts of aggravated theft and one court of securities fraud. He is awaiting trial on the remaining charges, according to the Collin County District Clerk.
     From August 2007 to February 2009, Rogers raised the money from more than 20 individual and institutional investors, including $950,000 from Oklahoma City-based Basin Management Group, according to the indictment.
     Rogers spent much of money on himself and tried to buy interests in unrelated projects, including a coal mine in West Virginia, according to the Texas State Securities Board.
     "Rogers shuffled investor funds to try to keep his scam afloat," the board said in a statement. "When one investor demanded a refund of the unused portion of the money he had invested, the bank account of Rogers' company, Land and Minerals, was virtually empty. As soon as two other investors wired money to Land and Minerals, however, Rogers diverted most of their funds to meet the investor's demand."
     Prosecutors said Rogers also failed to disclose at least two lawsuits from his earlier oil and gas dealings, which is required by law.
     In February 2007, he was sued in Dallas County District Court and accused of breaking state and federal securities laws regarding the sale of oil and gas interests in the Vinton Dome in Louisiana, prosecutors said.
     Five months later, the SEC filed a federal complaint in Sherman, accusing Rogers of soliciting 35 investors by claiming that his bank debenture investment through Frisco-based Level Par Investments was secure and paid weekly returns of 25 percent. The SEC said it was a sham and investor money was put to personal use by the promoters. A subsequent settlement permanently restrained and enjoined Rogers from breaking federal securities laws, and required him to pay $100,000 in disgorgement and $50,000 in civil penalties.
     Rogers also failed to disclose to investors his role in the misappropriation of investor money from his venture Falcon Energy, and failed to disclose a 2009 bankruptcy filing where he listed debts of $2 million, according to the TSSB.
     Rogers was licensed to practice law in 1986 and lists "oil and gas" as his sole area of practice, according to the State Bar of Texas.