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Press Release

Texas Man Sentenced to 78 Months in Prison for Running Fraudulent Investment Companies and Obstructing Securities and Exchange Commission Investigation

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A San Angelo, Texas, man was sentenced to 78 months in prison today 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.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney John R. Parker of the Northern District of Texas and Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Costanzi of the FBI’s Dallas Office made the announcement.

Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry, 51, was sentenced by U.S. Districst 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.  On Nov. 18, 2016, Fortenberry pleaded guilty on to two counts of mail fraud and one count of obustruction of justice.  

In November 2016, when Fortenberry pleaded guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice charges, he admitted that he ran an investment company called Premier Investment Fund (Premier), 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 (Wattenberg), 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.

The FBI’s Dallas Office investigated the case.  Trial Attorney William E. Johnston of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Long of the Northern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.  The SEC has provided substantial assistance in this case and referred this matter to the department.

Updated March 16, 2017

Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Press Release Number: 17-243