Nelson Pleads Guilty to Stealing $77 Million/Says He's Sorry - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/27/06

Nelson Pleads Guilty to Stealing $77 Million/Says He's Sorry

On Thursday, Jonathan "Jody" Nelson pleaded guilty to stealing $77 million from his former employer, Patterson UTI. He admitted to wire fraud and money laundering.

"Mr. Nelson is continuing to cooperate with the government, the receiver, the company and the Security Exchange Comission. He entered a plea in which he accepted responsibility for his actions. The next step in these proceedings will be the preparation of a pre-sentence report to assist the court in determining a reasonable sentence to impose in this matter. Mr. Nelson will be cooperating with the probation office in the preparation of that report. Mr. Nelson regrets his actions and is doing everything possible to assist in reducing any loss suffered by the company. Because of restrictions placed upon him by the court, Mr. Nelson has been unable to contact many individuals affected by his actions and wants to take this opportunity to apologize to those individuals for his actions," said Charles Meadows, Nelson's Dallas attorney.

Nelson's attorneys did not name any individuals, but we have been following this case since last fall and know that a number of people, including Nelson's wife, were forced to give up money and other items of value. 

Nelson faces 30 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine. But there is a chance he won't get the maximum penalty. Court documents say he is cooperating with the federal government. It even reveals he is plea bargaining,  which means some sort of deal may come out of this in the end. For the first time, we're learning how Nelson was able to scam $77 million in a seven year period.

Four schemes in seven years, Nelson bought planes, an airport, houses, condos, farmland, cars and lake houses. Court documents reveal the schemes started eight years ago when he was the Chief Financial Officer for Patterson UTI. Nelson forged 38 checks totaling $4.6 million of Patterson UTI's money. He would deposit the money into his company account and cover up his trail by falsifying accounting records.

Then from 2001 to 2005,  he embezzeled another $69 million from Patterson UTI through fraudulent wire transactions. Nelson would wire the money to another business account.  It was an account that was at his personal disposal. 

In 2004, Nelson lied to Patterson UTI about needing $2.1 million to maintain an executive aircraft. Patterson officials were led to believe the plane was acquired through a company merger.  But the fact was, it wasn't. The records say Nelson just wanted the money to buy a plane for himself.

Finally, the fourth scheme.  In 2004, Nelson needed money to purchase stock in a Snyder based construction company, called Arrow Construction. To get that money, Nelson created bogus invoices for $1.5 million. It showed that Patterson UTI bought air compressors, sand blasters and commerical painters and vehicles. When really, nothing was ever purchased.

Because there is a pre-sentencing investigation, Judge Sam Cumming's sentence is not expected for at least two months. Again, Nelson is facing 30 years in prison and a half million dollar fine. But until he's sentenced, Nelson will continue to live under his parent's supervision in Lamb County.

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