Texas man sentenced to about five years in prison for mineral rights fraud

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 04, 2015 6:03 PM

By Marice Richter

FORT WORTH, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas man who confessed to running a fraud scheme on his employer, a subsidiary of oil and gas major ExxonMobil, has been sentenced to just over five years in federal prison, officials said on Friday.

Steven Fisackerly, 33, of Spring, Texas, was sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution by U.S. District Judge Terry Means, U.S. prosecutors said.

Fisackerly pleaded guilty to mail fraud in May. He has not commented about the sentence.

Prosecutors said Fisackerly took advantage of his employee status with Fort Worth-based XTO Energy to pull off the scheme.

He used his knowledge of the company’s lease process and his access to company information to generate bogus gas leases, from which he was able to pocket money. He also altered information to generate bogus documents, prosecutors said

"During the course of the scheme, Fisackerly engaged in approximately nine fraudulent transactions, causing XTO to issues checks totaling $1,005,131," U.S. prosecutors said in a statement.

XTO officials said on Friday that they have cooperated with the investigation.

"XTO does not tolerate fraud or any other criminal behavior," said company spokeswoman Suann Guthrie.

Fisackerly admitted that he devised and ran the scheme from 2009 to 2011, prosecutors said.

As a landman for XTO from 2008 to 2012, his duties included negotiating oil and gas leases with landowners. His position gave him access to XTO’s computer system to track costs of oil and gas bonus payments and leases.

In one case, Fisackerly changed lease documents from an authentic landowner to indicate that someone named E.C. owned the minerals, according to prosecutors’ statement.

Fisackerly also created a sham company for obtaining mineral rights for XTO and then falsified documents to route bonus checks for signing with the company, and then cashed them himself, it said.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by James Dalgleish)