Crime

Hustonville man gets a year and a day in prison in oil and gas fraud scheme

A man from Hustonville was sentenced Tuesday for his role in an oil and gas scheme that defrauded investors of millions of dollars.

Joshua Scott Harris, 25, a sales supervisor for Target Oil and Gas, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. He also must pay a $2,300 mandatory special assessment and undergo three years of supervised release, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood deferred setting a restitution amount for 90 days.

"You've said you were sorry. I haven't heard sorry from anybody yet," Hood said during sentencing in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Harris pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy last year, after his trial had been under way for more than a week.

He supervised a group of salesmen, coaching them on how to get investors to buy into the company's oil and gas drilling programs. He also told the salesmen to make false claims to investors about past successes and made sales calls to investors himself in which he made bogus claims, according to the release.

Harris helped entice investors in Kentucky, Arizona, California, New Jersey and other states to turn over $13.4 million to the company, according to the news release.

Investors received $1.19 million in royalty payments, the release stated.

Harris is one of six people convicted in the case, which involves Target Oil and Gas in Albany and Kentucky Indiana Oil and Gas in Danville. Michael D. Smith of Lancaster, president of Target Oil and Gas, is to be sentenced Wednesday. Christopher C. Smith of Prestonsburg, the vice president of Target Oil and Gas, and geologist Ray Garton of Barrackville, W.Va., are to be sentenced Thursday. Mark Irwin of Cookeville, Tenn., is to be sentenced in July.

Shaun Michael Smith of Cookeville, Tenn., was sentenced Monday to 21/2 years in prison.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments