So-Called ‘Frack Master’ Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas
Texas oil-and-gas mogul Christopher A. Faulkner has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for bilking investors out of millions of dollars and concealing money from the IRS, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Chad Meacham.
A frequent media commentator and self-proclaimed “frack master,” Faulkner, now 44, was arrested in June 2018 at the Los Angeles International Airport. He entered his first guilty plea in October 2018. After the judge declined to impose the binding 12-year sentence stipulated in the plea agreement, Faulkner withdrew his guilty plea. He entered a second guilty plea in December 2020 and was sentenced in September 2021 to 15 years in federal prison for securities fraud and attempted tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle also ordered him to pay $92.4 million in restitution to his victims.
According to plea papers, from 2011 to 2016, Faulkner raised more than $71 million from working interest investors, who took on a fixed portion of projected drilling costs in exchange for a share in his oil and gas profits.
But in marketing materials distributed to these investors, Faulkner inflated the estimated drilling costs by as much as 800 percent, allowing his three companies – Breitling Energy Corp., Crude Energy, LLC and Patriot Energy, Inc. – to pocket the difference between his projections and the actual cost of the wells.
He also gave would-be investors a “Geology Report,” ostensibly prepared by an independent expert, estimating future production for each well. Unbeknownst to them, the report was generated by a geologist on Faulkner’s payroll who consistently overstated the wells’ potential.
Faulkner routinely oversold shares, then transferred investment funds into comingled accounts despite promising investors their money would be deposited in a segregated bank account used only to pay for drilling activities.
Over a five-year period, he admits, he diverted approximately $23 million for his own personal benefit, shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time for luxury travel, professional concierge services, maintenance of multiple residences, and at least seven vehicles, including an Aston Martin, a Bentley, and a Mercedes Benz. During that time, his companies paid out just $6.2 million to investors, according to the criminal complaint filed in June.
Moreover, in 2014, Faulkner says, he concealed at least $3.7 million in taxable income from the federal government, failing to file a return or pay income tax.
Faulkner previously settled with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), which filed a complaint in June 2016 alleging multiple violations of federal securities laws. Faulkner’s settlement with the SEC ordered him to disgorge $23.8 million; permanently enjoins him from violating, among other things, the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and from participating in any unregistered securities transactions; and, bars him from serving as an officer or director of any SEC-reporting company and from participating in any offering of a penny stock.
The Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service conducted the criminal investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marcus Busch, Katherine Miller, Mark Tindall (now a Western District of Texas AUSA), Christopher Stokes (fmr) and Ryan Raybould (fmr) prosecuted the criminal case.
Updated October 12, 2021