BARTLESVILLE — Court proceedings will continue for a former local financial consultant and a Bartlesville businesswoman charged with multiple counts of embezzlement and conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors in both Osage and Washington counties.
Ten criminal charges against former Osage County resident Larry Joe Dearman, 41, and Marya Gray, 50, were sustained in a decision earlier this week by Special Judge John M. Gerkin in Washington County Court.
The ruling, which was released last week, culminated a March 11 preliminary hearing and the subsequent presentation of legal arguments in the investments case.
Both defendants are due back in court Aug. 29.
Gerkin found sufficient evidence against Gray and Dearman on four felony counts of conspiracy and three for embezzlement, according to his ruling. Dearman also was bound over on three counts of obtaining money by false pretense.
All charges are connected to fraudulent schemes allegedly perpetrated by the pair between mid-2009 and March 2012.
Prosecutors agreed to the dismissal of three additional counts that were listed on an amended charge submitted in the case. District Attorney Kevin Buchanan announced criminal filings last October. The original charge included seven conspiracy and four embezzlement counts, plus seven accusations of obtaining money by false pretense.
Testimony was presented at the March preliminary by several witnesses, including an investigator with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A total of 28 exhibits were entered as evidence at the hearing.
Last August, the SEC charged Dearman and Gray with making fraudulent securities offerings that raised at least $4.7 million from more than 30 clients of Dearman, a former investment advisor for The Focus Group. A majority of those funds were converted to loans and investments in companies controlled by Gray, a licensed real estate agent.
More than 15 related civil actions have been filed on behalf of investors from Washington, Osage, Nowata and at least three other counties in Oklahoma, as well as Dearman clients who resided in Texas and Florida. A majority of the civil cases were consolidated into one judgment that was rendered on behalf of the plaintiffs in May 2013.
Claims by six investment clients involving approximately $600,000 in funding are included in the criminal charges that are currently being prosecuted.
The only business mentioned in these allegations is The Property Shoppe, a Gray-controlled company "purportedly formed to purchase distressed properties, refurbish them, and then re-sell them at a profit. According to the court’s ruling: "The evidence presented at the hearing supports the State’s assertion that no such properties were ever purchased."
SEC documents assert that during the relevant 2009-2012 period: "The Property Shoppe was a shell company with no employees or operations."
Gray has been free on $150,000 bond since shortly after she surrendered in the case last October. Dearman has been held on $150,000 bond since his arrest.