BARTLESVILLE — In addition to being the senior advisor of an area investment counseling firm, Larry Joe Dearman was a popular wedding singer, according to a complaint by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Local businesswoman Marya Gray, Dearman’s longtime friend, provided piano accompaniment at many of his performances, SEC documents add.
Fourteen months after financial schemes allegedly orchestrated by the pair started to unravel, Dearman and Gray were charged in Washington County District Court with multiple counts of felony embezzlement and criminal conspiracy.
Gray, 50, is named in seven felony counts which claim she and Dearman conspired to divert funds from seven of his clients in order to invest in various companies she owned or managed. Dearman, 40, is charged with four counts of embezzlement and seven counts each for conspiracy and obtaining money by false pretense from the same seven investors.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Buchanan filed the charges Monday afternoon.
Allegations claim that Dearman and Gray conspired to fraudulently appropriate a total of $836,000 from the seven investors — who are listed as witnesses in the cases. Victims were among more than 30 former Dearman clients involved in 15 civil actions filed in Washington and Osage counties over a recent six-month period.
Investor/victims in the criminal cases include six area investors and Denise Rosselot, a Florida woman who became acquainted with Dearman through an acquaintance in Bartlesville. Also named as witnesses in the charges were: Keith Buttel, Jason Elmore and James Robert Hatfield, all of the Bartlesville area; Donna Ray Bryant of Pawhuska; Eugene Patterson of Skiatook and Kenneth McKinney of Ponca City.
Nearly all of the alleged incidents took place during an approximately four-year period that ended in August 2012. During that time, Dearman served as senior investment advisor for The Focus Group, a Bartlesville-based consulting firm.
If convicted on the latest charges, Dearman would be liable for fines of up to $110,000 and/or as much as 180 years imprisonment, according to court documents. Gray, who earlier turned over more than $500,000 from the sale of two of her businesses in connection with the civil cases, faces $35,000 in fines and up to 70 years in prison on the conspiracy charges.
The SEC accused Dearman and Gray of raising at least $4.7 million through various fraudulent and illegal transactions, claiming the embezzled money was spent on their personal uses and to pay off other investors in a Ponzi-type scheme. The SEC pointed out that the pair "frequented local casinos throughout the relevant time period" and estimated Gray’s total gambling outlay at "$1.1 million over the course of the scheme."