BARTLESVILLE — A January preliminary hearing has been scheduled for a former Barnsdall financial adviser and Bartlesville businesswoman accused of perpetrating fraudulent investment schemes that bilked at least $4.7 million from more than 30 investors, including at least a dozen from the Pawhuska area.
Larry Joe Dearman and Marya Gray appeared in Washington County District Court last month. District Judge Russell Vaclaw set a Jan. 23 date for their hearing, which is to start at 8:30 a.m. before Special Judge John Gerkin. The court appearance by Gray and Dearman came exactly one year after the first civil court filing was made in the case.
Since the initial filing on Nov. 16, 2012, more than a dozen civil lawsuits involving at least 30 different investors were filed in Osage and Washington counties. The first case was filed on behalf of a Wynona man, Jerry Quillen. Defendants in the suit included Dearman and Gray, as well as Focus Group Advisors, the Bartlesville investment firm where Dearman was employed. Also named were two Focus Group executives and a wireless internet company formerly owned by Gray.
In the current criminal cases, 40-year-old Dearman is charged with four counts of embezzlement and seven counts each of obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy. The allegations involve financial dealings that took place between 2009 and 2012 while Dearman was the senior financial advisor of Focus Group Advisors.
Since his arrest in October, Dearman has been held on a $150,000 bond at the Washington County Detention Facility.
Gray is charged with seven counts alleging she and Dearman conspired to fraudulently divert approximately $900,000 from investment accounts belonging to seven Dearman clients. The 50-year-old former real estate agent was released after posting $150,000 bond on Oct. 23, the same day she surrendered to authorities.
Both defendants face maximum prison sentences of 10 years and $5,000 fines on each of the counts for which they are charged.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has alleged that some of the funds involved in the case were converted into loans to companies owned or controlled by Gray. SEC officials claim one Gray business, The Property Shoppe, was a "shell company" that had no assets and was only used to lure investors who were told it was legitimate.
An federal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in August alleges Dearman and Gray raised at least $4.7 million through various fraudulent means, including converting investors’ Individual Retirement Accounts into unauthorized loans to Gray-controlled businesses.
It also is claimed that Dearman and Gray used the embezzled funds to pay personal expenses. The investors’ money also is alleged to have been spent at casinos and used to pay off other investors in a Ponzi-type scheme.