Houston man charged with defrauding investors in oil and gas deals
HOUSTON, TX -- Authorities have arrested a 55-year-old Houston man on charges of operating a scheme to defraud investors in oil and gas transactions, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
A federal grand jury returned the 12-count indictment against Arael Doolittle Oct. 22. He is expected to make his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena H. Palermo at 2 p.m.
The indictment alleges Doolittle operated Sariel Petroleum LLC and Sariel Enterprises LLC. He is alleged to have taken in excess of $1.2 million from 21 investors under false pretenses through his companies. Doolittle falsely represented he had the necessary pre-existing relationships with major refiners and petroleum product suppliers to purchase fuels for resale to his customers, according to the charges.
The indictment further alleges Doolittle provided falsified documents to the investors to further assure them of the legitimacy of his representations.
Doolittle is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived funds. Wire fraud carries a potential 20-year-maximum sentence and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted of any of the other four counts, he faces the same fines and up to 10 years imprisonment.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Annis is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.