Will Jody Nelson's attorneys have to give back the half-million dollars? That is the question that federal judge Sam Cummings is now ruling on. Nelson is the man accused of embezzling over $70-million from a Snyder-based oil drilling company.
The Securities and Exchange Commission believes Nelson paid his attorneys with stolen money, but the attorneys say their payment was made with untainted stock options that Nelson earned while employed at Patterson UTI. NewsChannel 11's Jennifer Vogel has been following this case and explain what happened in the courtroom.
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Jonathan "Jody" Nelson Auction Items
On Tuesday in court we got a small preview of what the criminal trial will look like. Nelson along with his two attorney's sat in the defendant's seat while the SEC, the court's receiver, and representatives from Patterson UTI sat in the victim's chair. While the discussions dealt with whether or not Nelson's attorney's should give back $524,000, other issues could not be avoided. Like where they could find the missing $30-million in Nelson's assets.
The court receiver Robert Wilson, the man in charge of collecting all of Nelson's assets said on the stand that Nelson has not been cooperative in giving information to the whereabouts of missing money totaling over $30 million.
Nelson's Attorney Chuck Meadows said they have been cooperative giving bank statements and leading the courts to the assets, but as far as where the rest of it is? The only answer is that money was lost in business production.
The issue at hand in court, however, was if Mr. Meadows and Jeff Kearney, Nelson's attorneys, should keep their pay. The Securities and Exchange Commission stated that all of Nelson's assets need to be collected, per the court's request. That includes the half-million dollar attorney fees.
Meadows argued that nelson has a right to pay for his legal fees with the legitimate money he earned in stock options from Patterson UTI. Patterson UTI, the victim in this case, had representatives in court who said that if they knew Nelson was stealing from them, he would've never had the stock options in the first place. The judge did not make a ruling.
Next week Nelson's wife Hillary Nelson will be in federal court for the same type of argument, but the courts are asking her to give up $4.2 million Nelson gave her just days before turning himself in.
Also Hillary Nelson was added to the civil lawsuit as a person who benefited from stolen money. The SEC is asking the courts to consider her a relief defendant, along with 16 other businesses. If granted, she would be the only person individually named as a benefactor of Nelson's scheme. The order is now asking that all relief defendants give back the money, saying, "relief defendants have obtained the funds and/or property alleged above under circumstances in which it is not just."
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