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Texas Man Sentenced for Fraud in Colorado Drilling Scheme

A San Angelo, Texas, man was sentenced to 78 months in prison this week for running two investment fraud schemes that defrauded investors out of approximately $900,000 over a four-year period, and obstructing a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation.

Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry, 51, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings of the Northern District of Texas.  Judge Cummings also ordered the defendant to pay $890,310 in restitution and to forfeit $311,254.  Fortenberry pleaded guilty last November to two counts of mail fraud and one count of obstruction of justice.  

When Fortenberry pleaded guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice charges, he admitted that he ran an investment company called Premier Investment Fund, which raised funds from investors for social media projects run by another company with ties to the country music industry.  Fortenberry misled investors about the profitability of the company and about the destination of the investors’ funds.  Fortenberry admitted that he diverted approximately half of investors’ funds into his own pocket and to pay the expenses of his fundraising operation.  

Fortenberry also admitted that, from 2013 to 2014, he ran Wattenberg Energy Partners, which raised funds for oil and gas drilling projects in northern Colorado.  Fortenberry admitted that he set up the company in his son’s name because he was then under investigation by the SEC for misusing the Premier investors’ funds.  He used a network of salespeople to solicit individuals over the phone to invest in drilling projects.  Fortenberry admitted that he spent the vast majority of the funds on himself and the company’s fundraising operation.  In October 2014, at an administrative hearing with the SEC, Fortenberry falsely denied having control of or working for Wattenberg.

Fortenberry admitted that the total loss to victims of both schemes was $887,311.