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Oil & Gas Fraud Ring Rolled Up

DALLAS (CN) - A Dallas-area oil executive was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $53 million in restitution for securities fraud, federal prosecutors said.

John Arthur Apple, 53, of Lewisville, pleaded guiltyin January to conspiring to commit securities fraud and securities fraud involving investment offerings from Western Pipeline Corporation. He was sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay.

Apple is the fifth defendant convicted in the case. He was majority owner of Western Pipeline from October 2006 to July 2007 and raised money from investors by selling and causing others, including co-conspirators Christopher Scott Cent, Clifford Duane Stall, Mickey Glen Horn, and James Timothy Nealy, to sell investments in purported oil and gas development projects, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said the men assumed false identities to pitch to investors and posed as investors in Western Pipeline projects that supposedly had been successful.

Cent, Stall, Horn and Nealy have all pleaded guilty to securities fraud or conspiracy. Stahl and Nealy were sentenced to 4 years in federal prison; Stahl was ordered to pay $2 million in restitution, and Nealy was ordered to pay $53 million in restitution. Jent and Horn are to be sentenced in May.

Apple was ordered to report to federal prison on June 12.

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