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September 16, 10

NEWS / Former Houston Gas Trader Accused in $6.8 Million Fraud

HOUSTON—A 19-count indictment charging a former Houston gas trader with wire fraud and money laundering arising from an alleged scheme to defraud several natural gas trading companies of nearly $7 million has been unsealed, United States José Angel Moreno announced today.

The indictment, returned under seal Monday, Sept. 13, 2010, was unsealed today following the arrest earlier today of Stephanie Roqumore, 48, the sole owner of three natural gas trading companies operating in Houston. Roqumore appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston and been ordered released from custody on a bond of $50,000 pending trial. Arraignment is set for Sept. 23, 2010.

Roqumore owned SRR Energy Management Resources d/b/a Gas Energy Management; Gas American Resources; and Resource American Energy. According to allegations in the indictment, Roqumore used false financial statements for each of her gas trading companies to obtain lines of credit from other gas trading companies. Roqumore allegedly used the fraudulently obtained line of credit to purchase natural gas from that company, then sold that gas to other gas trading companies.

According to allegation in the indictment, Roqumore would receive payment for the natural gas she sold but would not pay in full for the natural gas she bought. In one instance, Roqumore purchased $1,594,617 of natural gas on credit from one company in February and March 2008, sold the gas to other companies, but allegedly only paid $50,000 to the company from whom she bought the gas, thereby defrauding them of $1,494,617. In a second instance, Roqumore purchased $1,096,331.22 of natural gas on credit from a different company, again sold the gas to other companies, but again allegedly only paid $50,000 to the company from whom she bought the gas in November and December 2005, thereby defrauding that company of $1,046,331.22. According to the indictment, Roqumore’s fraud scheme defrauded at least 11 natural gas companies of more than $6.8 million between March 2002 and April 2010.

Upon conviction, each of the 10 wire care fraud counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine; the nine money laundering counts carry a 10-year maximum penalty and a $250,000 fine. Parole has been abolished in the federal prison system.

The investigation leading to the criminal charges was conducted by the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Al Balboni is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.




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