More charges for Petro America founder, others
The net widened in the Petro America Corp. case as federal prosecutors brought additional criminal charges against its founder and three alleged insiders.
Indictments in the alleged multimillion-dollar stock scam were brought down Monday against company CEO Isreal Owen Hawkins Jr., Teresa Brown, Johnny Heurung and Clarence D. Moore.
All four were charged with conspiracy, with the U.S. Attorney's office alleging that they obtained money through the fraudulent sale of Petro America stock, making fraudulent misrepresentations and concealing their own enrichment through the scheme.
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The government contends Hawkins and his co-horts perpetrated a $7.2 million securities fraud by claiming the company owned gold mines valued at $284 billion.
Hawkins, of Kansas City, Kan., was charged with two felonies last month, securities fraud and "aggravated currency structuring," which involves hiding big cash withdrawals from regulators.
In addition to the conspiracy charge, Hawkins also charged Monday wiht money laundering and wire fraud.
Hawkins, a Kansas City, Kan., is expected to make an intial appearance before a federal judge this afternoon.
Brown, of Bandera, Texas, was also charged with securities fraud and wire fraud. The government contends she received more than $3 million from Petro America investors through accounts she controlled.
Heurung was also charged with wire fraud. A Minnesota resident, Heurung was alleged to have held regular conference calls promising investors that they would realize substantial returns on their shares.
Moore was charged with the single conspiracy count.
A group of Petro America shareholders are expected to gather this afternoon in support of Hawkins.