Oilman Pleads Guilty to Securities Fraud

     DALLAS (CN) – An oil company executive pleaded guilty to felonies in his operation of Western Pipeline Corp., federal prosecutors said.



     John Arthur Apple Jr., 53, of Lewisville, is the fifth defendant convicted in the case. Apple pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. He faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Sentencing is set for April 16 before U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay.
     Apple was majority owner of Western Pipeline from October 2006 to July 2007. He raised money from investors by selling and causing others, including co-conspirators Christopher Scott Cent, Clifford Duane Stall, Mickey Glen Horn, and James Timothy “J.C.” Nealy to sell investments in purported oil and gas development projects, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement announcing Apple’s plea.
     Prosecutors say Apple and his co-conspirators misled, deceived and defrauded investors by misrepresenting and failing to disclose material facts.
     The co-conspirators assumed false identities when communicating with prospective investors and posed as iinvestors in past Western Pipeline oil and gas development projects that supposedly had been successful.
     Cent, Stall, Horn and Nealy have pleaded guilty to securities fraud or conspiracy charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. They are awaiting sentencing. Each faces up to 5 years in prison.
     In 2008, investors sued Western Pipeline and several of the co-defendants in Dallas County Court, claiming they had been swindled out of $18 million.
     U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana said in the statement that her office has convicted 19 people in the oil and gas business on felony fraud and conspiracy charges in the past 2 years.

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