State

The price for defrauding investors in Kentucky oil wells? Four years in prison

Rick-Rod Well Service Co.’s Ronnie Rodgers checked on an oil pump in 2007.
Rick-Rod Well Service Co.’s Ronnie Rodgers checked on an oil pump in 2007. cbertram@herald-leader.com

An oil-well driller who operated in Kentucky and Tennessee has been sentenced to four years in federal prison after being convicted of scamming investors, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Robert M. Duncan Jr.

The sentence also calls for Ronnie C. Rodgers, of Adair County, to spend a year on home detention, a spokesman for Duncan said.

U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove sentenced Rodgers Tuesday in Frankfort.

Rodgers, 63, allegedly solicited money from investors to drill oil and gas wells in Adair, Clinton, Pulaski and Warren counties in Kentucky, and also in Tennessee.

Rodgers had been barred from selling oil-well investments in Kentucky after running afoul of state regulators, but allegedly set up other companies and continued taking money from investors, according to court records.

Rodgers knew that wells in the area where he was drilling typically produced little oil, but he and associates told investors they could expect production of 200 barrels a day and that Rodgers had made several people millionaires, a federal grand jury charged.

“Rodgers played a confidence game with the victim investors and they entrusted him with their money,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor said in a court document. “They were depending upon his integrity and honesty to make their investment work. This trust was misplaced and ultimately abused by Rodgers.”

Losses in the case totaled more than $3.5 million, according to the document.

The amount of restitution Rodgers will owe will be determined later.

Rodgers denied wrongdoing, but a jury convicted him of conspiring to commit mail fraud, wire fraud or securities fraud.

Rodgers’ attorney. C. Thomas Hectus, indicated in a court document that Rodgers will appeal the conviction.

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