Nelson Pleads "Not Guilty" To Criminal Charges - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/4/06

Nelson Pleads "Not Guilty" To Criminal Charges

The man accused of embezzling $78-million from a Snyder based oil company says he's innocent. Jonathan "Jody" Nelson entered a plea of "not guilty" in Lubbock federal court Wednesday morning. Nelson is charged with certifying false financial reports and is accused of aiding and abetting to obtain the money from Patterson UTI. The second count accuses Nelson of wire fraud and aiding and abetting when taking the money and transferring it to buy an airplane.

The "not guilty" plea came as a surprise to some in the courtroom because Nelson has admitted in court documents to embezzling $29-million. The difference is that the criminal charges are not accusing Nelson of embezzlement, they are claiming he lied on federal documents and committed wire fraud in the criminal counts.

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NewsChannel 11 spoke with Wade Warren, a reporter from the Snyder Daily News, the town where Patterson UTI, the oil drilling company is located, and he says the entire case has come as a shock to the community. "People were surprised it happened here, but still realize Patterson is a good company, a great corporate neighbor that's well respected. Still, there are great people, and they're a great asset to Snyder. They'll go on, our community will go on."

We tried to get a comment from Nelson and his attorney, but a gag order issued by federal judge Sam Cummings will not allow anyone to speak to the media.

Neslon's criminal trial will begin in February. But later this month, his attorney and soon-to-be ex-wife will go to court to try and keep nearly $5-million given to them by Nelson.

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