A former gas trader in Houston has been charged with wire fraud and money laundering arising from an alleged scheme to defraud several natural gas trading companies of nearly $7 million, according to a newly unsealed 19-count indictment.
The indictment was unsealed Tuesday following the arrest earlier in the day of Stephanie Roqumore, 48, the sole owner of three gas trading companies operating in Houston. Roqumore appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston and was ordered released on a $50,000 bond pending trial. Arraignment is set for Sept. 23.
According to the indictment, Roqumore owned SRR Energy Management Resources, doing business as 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 credit to purchase gas from that company, then sold the gas to other gas trading companies.
Roqumore would receive payment for the natural gas she sold but would not pay in full for the natural gas she bought, according to the indictment. In one instance, Roqumore purchased $1,594,617 of gas on credit from one company in February and March 2008 and sold the gas to other companies, but allegedly only paid $50,000 to the company from which she bought the gas, thereby defrauding it of $1,494,617.
In a second instance, Roqumore purchased $1,096,331.22 of 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 which 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 gas companies of more than $6.8 million between March 2002 and April 2010.
Upon conviction, each of the 10 wire 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.
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