Fort Worth Oil & Gas Man Sentenced to 17+ Years for Wire Fraud, Ordered to Pay $16M Restitution
An oil and gas fraudster was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison for running a multi-million dollar Ponzi-type scheme, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Leigha Simonton.
Billy Marcum, Jr., 67, of Fort Worth, Texas, pleaded guilty in December 2022 to wire fraud. On Thursday, he was sentenced to 210 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, who also ordered him to pay more than $16 million in restitution.
In plea papers, Mr. Marcum – the owner of a number of oil and gas companies, including Navarro Minerals, Caddo I, Bluecreek Operating, Fullspike Energy, Viejo Services, and Viejo Exploration – solicited money from investors, telling them their funds would be used to purchase oil and gas leases and to pay for well oil repairs and returns would be paid out of profits from the ensuing oil and gas sales.
A classic Ponzi scheme, instead of purchasing the leases, Mr. Marcum used new investors’ money to fund earlier investors’ returns, lulling them into believing their investments were sound and that they should continue investing with him. (He also used some of the investment money to pay personal expenses.)
In furtherance of the scheme, Mr. Marcum fabricated reports about oil production and sales and sent them to investors. The false run statements noted purported lease name and number, the gross volume of product taken, sales value, taxes paid, dates, and net amount to be paid to the operator. Marcum also recorded false lease assignments related to his scheme in counties throughout Texas to disguise his crime.
Around September 2018, Mr. Marcum realized he lacked sufficient revenues and could no longer raise sufficient funds to pay existing investors. He conspired with a man named Jay Taylor to solicit investor funds on behalf of several of his companies. Mr. Marcum knowingly supplied false information to Mr. Taylor, who used the information to successfully solicit additional funds.
In April 2022, Mr. Marcum admitted to FBI agents that he concocted false run statements about oil and gas sales and sent them directly to some investors and indirectly, through Mr. Taylor, to others in order to entice investments. He also admitted that he used new investor funds to pay off other investors and represented to them that the returns were from oil sales.
At sentencing, prosecutors said Mr. Marcum defrauded over 150 victims, collecting nearly $30 million in investor funds and inflicting over $16 million in losses.
Mr. Taylor also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced in April to eight years in federal prison.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office – Fort Worth Resident Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy Larson, John de la Garza, and Beverly Chapman prosecuted the case.