A Colleyville businessman was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud in February.
Federal officials said the man bilked investors of more than $2.6 million.
James E. VanBlaricum, 78, who operated Signal Oil and Gas Co. and Texas Energy Management, which later became Texas Energy Mutual, was also ordered to pay more than $32 million in restitution for participating in a oil and gas fraud Ponzi scheme.
VanBlaricum, who has been in custody since his arrest in August, faced up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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VanBlaricum created Signal Oil and Gas Co. in 2000, and initially had an office on Airport Freeway in Fort Worth. In 2004, the company also began receiving mail at a Northwest Highway address in Grapevine, according to federal court documents.
Federal agents began an investigation after they were contacted by officials with the Texas State Securities Board, a news release from the U.S. attorney’s office said. VanBlaricum identified himself to investors under a false name, the release said.
The state agency had received complaints about VanBlaricum related to various programs he promoted and lies told by his salespeople. One of the main complaints was a lack of investment payments, federal agents said.
VanBlaricum also said that he had purchased or was in the process of purchasing certain assets, when neither was true. He also said that his oil and gas well projects were productive and profitable, when most were “dry holes,” produced oil for only a short period or had not been drilled.
In the federal investigation, authorities determined that 53 investors were victims of mail fraud and were bilked out of $2,633,090.
This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Charles Ponzi didn’t invent his eponymous pyramid scheme — but he lent star power to one of the oldest scams in the book. He also believed that his plan could have become a legitimate business.The New York Times