California Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Oil and Gas Investment Scheme

John Westine Jr. was convicted of orchestrating a fraudulent oil and gas investment scheme that took in more than $3 million across the nation from 240 investors. Westine was convicted of securities fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to launder funds. The Kentucky-based scam was supposed to be an investment in oil-producing wells throughout the state.

Kentucky’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) began receiving complaints in late 2012, at which time DFI began its investigation in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Westine and his co-defendants raised money by misrepresenting and failing to disclose material facts about certain oil well investments; namely, representing that oil was being produced when it was not. Investors also were led to believe that the companies had been in the oil production business for decades.

Westine also failed to disclose that he previously served more than 20 years in prison for running a similar scheme in Ohio. In fact, he was on probation from his previous crime at the time he began orchestrating this scheme.

Westine’s co-defendant, Henry Ramer, was sentenced to 13 years on the same charges. He worked as a salesman and manager of two Los Angeles-based telemarketing sales operations. Westine’s half brother, Michael Hicks, was sentenced to three years for mail fraud. He opened bank accounts and deposited investor checks, then sent the money to his co-defendants in California.

Were you a Victim of an Investment Scheme?

Westine is not the first person to perpetrate such a investment scheme and will not be the last. If you were a victim of Westine’s scheme or a similar one, you may have certain legal rights that require your immediate attention. Contact an experienced Los Angeles securities fraud attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.