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Spindletop securities case brings new indictment

A Fayette County grand jury indicted a Jessamine County woman Monday on charges that she illegally sold securities related to the 1901 Spindletop oil strike.

Jewell Robbins, also known as Alvina Jewell Burgin, 75, of Nicholasville was indicted on four felony counts. She was indicted in Fayette County because she maintained an office in Lexington.

The indictment says that Robbins unlawfully offered and/or sold securities that were not registered in Kentucky, that she was not registered as a broker or agent, and that she committed fraudulent or other practices with securities.

Each of the four counts is punishable by one to five years in prison.

Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson said the indictment was the “direct result” of a coalition of state, local and federal law enforcement officials known as the Financial Crimes Task Force that meets monthly to discuss pending cases in his office.

"Financial crimes are historically very complicated," Larson said. "This group is not intimidated by the complexity of financial crimes. This is what they like to do, and they do it."

In this particular instance, Roberta Bottoms, a U.S. postal inspector, was listed as the witness who testified before the grand jury. The state Department of Financial Institutions, which regulates securities in the state, was also involved, but it cannot bring criminal charges, said Andrea Williams, an assistant commonwealth's attorney who chairs the task force.

If the task force suspects there is criminal activity, it contacts a law enforcement agency, she said.

Robbins remains in the Franklin County jail, where she had been incarcerated since July 22. She was ordered to serve a 120-day sentence after a Franklin Circuit Court judge found her to be in contempt because she continued to sell securities. She is not scheduled to be released from jail until mid-November

The state Department of Financial Institutions says Robbins has sold securities or partial interests in litigation related to Spindletop since the mid-1980s.

There are thought to be hundreds or even thousands of people all over the country who invested money with Robbins. Spindletop was one of the richest oil deposits on earth and has yielded billions of dollars worth of crude oil since production began in 1901.

Ron Bowling, Robbins' attorney, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. An arraignment date for Robbins has not been scheduled.