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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Parole Officer Admits She Took Bribes

DALLAS (CN) - A former Texas parole officer admitted she took bribes from an oil and gas investment scammer in exchange for not reporting his parole violations.

Nichelle Derricks, 37, of Cedar Hill, pleaded guilty this week to a federal charge of honest services wire fraud, the Department of Justice said.

Derricks worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as a parole officer in Region II, Dallas District I. She admitted she took cash and gifts from the parolee.

From April 2008 to March 2010, a parolee under her supervision formed and ran a fraudulent oil and gas company in Dallas, prosecutors said.

"Person A and others engaged in a scheme to deceive and defraud individuals across the United States who invested in oil and gas royalty interests purportedly held by Company A," according to the indictment . "The scheme involved, among other things, making false and misleading statements and omissions to potential Company A investors and misusing the funds paid by investors to Company A for the enrichment of Person A and others."

"Derricks secretly used her official position with TDCJ to enrich herself and others by soliciting and receiving cash payments, gifts, furniture, household goods and items, food and beverages and other things of value from the parolee in exchange for favorable official action benefitting the parolee," prosecutors said in a statement. "The scheme, according to court documents, was conducted without the authorization, knowledge or approval of TDCJ and contrary to TDCJ procedures and requirements."

Derricks allegedly allowed the parolee to hold their supervision meetings at bars and restaurants instead of at her TDCJ office or the parolee's home.

Prosecutors have refused to release the identity of the parolee.

The Dallas Observer reported that the parolee was Alan Todd May, 47, of Dallas, who was sentenced in February 2012 to 20 years in federal prison for his role in a $7 million oil and gas scheme.

May was founder and president of Prosper Oil & Gas, which claimed to own and operate oil and gas leases in several states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arkansas.

According to plea documents, May ran a Ponzi scheme from July 2008 to March 2010, taking money for purported royalty interests in oil and gas leases.

"May and others told investors that the royalty interests for sale had yielded, or would yield, annual returns greater than 25 percent," prosecutors said after May was convicted. "As a result of these representations, Prosper sold purported royalty interests to more than 170 investors."

May and others sold mineral interests that Prosper did not own, oversold mineral interests that Prosper did own, wildly overstated production revenue for Prosper's leases and made some Ponzi payments, disguised as royalty payments, prosecutors said.

May admitted he used investors' money for "extravagant" personal expenses and that he gave money to his mother, daughter, brother and ex-wife.

Derricks faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She is to be sentenced on April 24.

Follow @davejourno
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