The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has filed suit in federal court accusing former Bartlesville investment adviser Larry Dearman and businesswoman Marya Gray of defrauding clients of around $5 million over a three-year period.
Dearman, a former Osage County resident, and Gray allegedly used money obtained from various illegal schemes for personal expenses, including gambling, as well as to pay off earlier investors in a Ponzi-type scheme, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court of Tulsa.
The federal court document stated that the SEC filed the civil lawsuit in order to permanently enjoin Dearman, Gray and any of their agents from further violations of securities and exchange acts.
It also asked the court to order Dearman and Gray "to disgorge, jointly and severally, any ill-gotten gains and/or unjust enrichment realized by each of them, plus prejudgment interest."
Two businesses formerly owned by Gray — Bartnet Wireless and Quench Buds Holding Co., LLC — also were named as defendants in the lawsuit, as was a shell company with which Gray was connected, The Property Shoppe Inc. In April, Gray was allowed to sell the Bartnet and Quench Buds properties under supervision of a Washington County district court judge.
The lawsuit claims Dearman, 40, fraudulently obtained at least $4.7 million by promising more than 30 of his clients that he would invest their funds into various businesses owned or controlled by Gray. It is further alleged that Dearman stole an additional $700,000 from his clients through other ruses, the suit states.
The estimated time period over which the alleged actions took place extends from approximately December 2008 to August 2012, according to the complaint. During that time, Dearman served as senior investment advisor for The Focus Group, a Bartlesville-based consulting firm.
There have been at least 15 civil lawsuits filed against Dearman and Focus Group in district courts for Washington and Osage counties.
Earlier this month, more than $500,000 that had been derived from sale of the two Gray businesses was disbursed to defendants of 12 of the Washington County lawsuits. Those suits had earlier been consolidated for the purpose of settlement.