A San Angelo, Texas, man pled guilty on Friday, November 18, to fraud and obstruction of justice charges in connection with two investment companies he ran that defrauded investors out of approximately $900,000 over a four-year period.
Stanley Jonathan Fortenberry, 50, pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of obstructing an official proceeding before U.S. Magistrate Judge D. Gordon Bryant Jr. of the Northern District of Texas. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later date.
As part of his guilty plea, Fortenberry admitted admitted that he ran an investment company called Premier Investment Fund (Premier), which raised funds from investors for social media projects run by another company with ties to the country music industry. Fortenberry misled investors about profitability of the company and about the destination of the investors’ funds. Fortenberry admitted that he diverted approximately half of investors’ funds into his own pocket and to pay the expenses of his fundraising campaign.
Fortenberry also admitted that, from 2013 to 2014, he ran Wattenberg Energy Partners, which raised funds for oil and gas drilling projects in northern Colorado. Fortenberry admitted that he set up the company in his son’s name because he was then under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for misusing the Premier investors’ funds. He used a network of salespeople to solicit individuals over the phone to invest in drilling projects. Fortenberry admitted that he spent the vast majority of the funds on himself and the company’s fundraising operation. In October 2014, at an administrative hearing with the SEC, Fortenberry falsely denied having control of or working for Wattenberg.
Fortenberry admitted that the total loss to victims of both schemes was $887,311.
As part of the investigation into Wattenberg, Peter Szondy, 70, and Stanley Stephen Fortenberry, 24, both pled guilty and admitted to committing fraud while working for Wattenberg.