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Provident CFO Indicted in $485 Million Investment Fraud Scheme

This news story was published on December 16, 2012.
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PLANO, TX—A 59-year-old Plano Texas, man has been indicted in connection with a $485 million investment fraud scheme in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.

W. Mark Miller was indicted by a federal grand jury late yesterday and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

According to the indictment, Miller, who served as chief financial officer of Provident Royalties, is alleged to have conspired with others to defraud investors in an oil and gas scheme that involved over $485 million and 7,700 investors throughout the United States. Specifically, beginning in September 2006, Miller and other individuals are alleged to have made materially false representations and failed to disclose material facts to their investors in order to induce the investors into providing payments to Provident. Among these false representations were statements that funds invested would be used only for the oil and gas project for which those funds were raised; among the omissions of material fact were the facts that another of Provident founders, Joseph Blimline, had received millions of dollars of unsecured loans; that Blimline had been previously charged with securities fraud violations by the state of Michigan; and that funds from investors in later oil and gas projects were being used to pay individuals who invested in earlier oil and projects.

Blimline, 35, pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme and was sentenced in May 2012 to 20 years in federal prison. Provident CEO/founder Paul R. Melbye, 47, pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme in November 2012 and awaits sentencing. Two other Provident principals, Brendan Coughlin, 46, and Henry Harrison, 47, were indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2012 and are awaiting trial.

If convicted, Miller faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his role in the conspiracy.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shamoil T. Shipchandler.

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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