A former oilfield supervisor pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering in federal court on Friday, admitting he orchestrated an elaborate scheme to defraud his employer out of more than $400,000.
David Owen West, 59, of Drumright, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
A grand jury had charged West in a 30-count indictment that was unsealed in October.
West, who worked as a field supervisor and oilfield pumper for Petco Petroleum Corp., headquartered in Hinsdale, Illinois, admitted to devising two schemes to steal more than $400,000 from his former employer over a four-year period from 2013 to 2017.
“David West was a trusted employee for close to 30 years at Petco Petroleum,” U.S. Attorney Trent Shores said in a statement. “He violated that trust by engaging in schemes to defraud his employer as West helped himself to more than $400,000 of the company’s money.”
According to the indictment, West set up a shell company, Flash Electric Services, in Drumright and sent 109 fraudulent invoices from Flash to Petco for nearly $130,000 for electrical services, which it paid, but the work was never performed at its oil wells in Oklahoma from September 2015 to December 2016, according to court filings.
West also arranged and sold 50 tractor-trailer loads of Petco’s oil to U.S. Oil Reclaimers Inc. and had the checks payable to him or Flash. He pocketed the proceeds of the Oklahoma sweet crude worth nearly $267,000, according to court documents.
He then forwarded Petco the invoices for the transportation costs, which he said were for hauling water, not oil, which amounted to more than $5,300, which it paid.
In February 2017, Petco terminated West after it suspected he “was engaging in potential fraud, theft and embezzlement” of company assets, according to court filings. The company filed a civil suit against West in August 2019.
West’s sentencing date is set for May 13 in federal court in Tulsa. He faces up to 20 years in prison and must also pay restitution totaling over $400,000 to Petco.
Petco operates more than 1,200 producing wells and facilities in Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
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