A Cromwell oilman that’s been embroiled in criminal scandal over the last few years has now been convicted by a jury on ten counts of wire fraud and five counts of money laundering, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The convictions mean 52-year-old Kevin Wieck could face up to 20 years in prison on each count of fraud and 10 years on each count of money laundering, as well as the possibility of each conviction carrying a fine of up to $250,000 and supervised release of up to three years.
The three-day trial concluded on Friday, September 14. The DOJ said after only three days of testimony a jury deliberated for about two hours before returning with guilty verdicts on all counts.
Sentencing will take place about 90 days from the conclusion of the trial.
As reported in the Okemah News Leader a couple months ago, Wieck, former owner and operator of Wieck Oil Company, LLC., received a fifteen-count superseding indictment from a federal grand jury on July 3.
“According to the indictment, Wieck’s fraudulent scheme involved two types of oil wells: three “vertical” wells and a “horizontal” well,” the DOJ release states. “Wieck sold working interests in the vertical wells that supposedly guaranteed investors percentages of oil revenue.”
“He allegedly kept the majority of the money for himself, rather than paying investors,” the release continues. “Wieck sold and attempted to sell percentages of his supposed ownership interest in the horizontal well when he, in fact, never actually owned — and therefore had no right to sell — any portion of that well.”
According to the investigation, headed up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the five money laundering counts came as a result of Wieck transferring between bank accounts money made by criminal activity in amounts larger than $10,000.
The indictment also stated Wieck had fled to Mexico in late-August 2014 but had been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service — where he awaited trial — since April 11, 2018.
Wieck’s jury trial started Sept. 11, 2018.
According to the DOJ release, eight investors from Tulsa, Edmond, Michigan, Illinois and elsewhere testified about Wieck’s false promises and misrepresentations in connection with the vertical wells.
“These investors had invested cash, co-signed loans with Wieck or provided in-kind services, such as drilling, road work and construction on the wells at reduced rates,” the DOJ said. “Two investors testified that Wieck solicited investments in the horizontal wells. A local energy company executive, who later assumed control of the three vertical wells, confirmed that Wieck had a right to participate in the horizontal well but had never paid to exercise that right.
“He further explained that Wieck filed oil and gas assignments late and failed to secure division orders to pay investors directly. Instead, he exercised a “quick pay” option, which funneled all revenue into his own bank accounts.”
The prosecution laid out what seemed to be very compelling evidence for the jury with an FBI forensic accountant that confirmed during the trial that Wieck had received more than $1.7 million in revenue, pocketing at least $600,000, as well as the value of the investors’ in-kind contributions.
The FBI accountant’s testimony was bolstered when the prosecution called Wieck’s ex-wife to the stand where she corroborated, testifying that “she and Wieck splurged on hotel stays, vacations and large purchases when the investments came in,” the DOJ release stated.
After the evidence was laid out and testimony was heard, it didn’t take a jury long to return with “guilty” on all counts brought before the court.
Along with the aforementioned sentencing Wieck could receive as a result of these convictions, the DOJ said he will also be required to pay restitution to the victims of his fraudulent scheme.
This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI with prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia E. Barry and William Farrior.