Somerset resident Rodney Scott Phelps was found guilty on Tuesday by a federal jury of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection to a Ponzi scheme.
Phelps, 58, was the co-owner and co-operator of Maverick Asset Management LLC (MAM). He ran the investment company with Jason Castenir.
The conviction came after a brief deliberation of the jury following an eight-day trial, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Kentucky.
Phelps' sentencing is scheduled for December 3. He is facing a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
Castenir submitted a plea agreement in August 2017 for his role in the scheme. His sentencing is scheduled for September 24.
Court documents say that between May 2013 and July 2014, Phelps and Castenir convinced an investor to invest his and his company's investors' funds in an oil and gas venture in Belize.
Phelps claimed that MAM could obtain an oil concession from the Belizean government that would enable drilling at the victim's family property in Belize.
Court documents say that MAM did not obtain the oil concession.
The company received around $448,133 while only repaying investors $189,446, and used the remainder of the money for other business and personal uses, in violation of their agreement.
Part of that money allegedly was used to pay other investors' Ponzi payments and invest in other ventures.
In a second alleged scheme, Phelps reportedly received $1.2 million in wire transfers from three victims from Tennessee, telling them that only a portion of the funds would be "at risk" while being invested "in various markets that would yield guaranteed returns."
The U.S. Attorney's Office stated "Phelps and Castenir invested roughly one-third of this money on commodities markets, losing almost all of it in short measure, but sent victims accounting statements detailing profits on their investments. Phelps and Castenir spent the rest of the money on MAM operating expenses, personal profit, and Ponzi payments to other victim-investors."
A third scheme involved MAM taking $1 million to invest in a casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Court documents say that when the casino deal fell through, Phelps concealed that information from the investors and wired all but $100 of the $1 million into an account to be used for personal and other business purposes.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said "Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and James Robert Brown Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Louisville Division, jointly announced the verdict. The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Kathryn M. Anderson and Kenneth R. Taylor."