A 63-year-old California man has been convicted of federal fraud charges after misleading investors about oil drilling on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
Joseph Brent Loftis of Corona Del Mar, California and formerly of Montana was convicted at trial of five counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering. The eight-day trial took place before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen in Butte.
According to court records and testimony, Loftis solicited approximately $3 million from investors based upon false representations that he owned leases on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Loftis also made misrepresentations regarding whether he had received a degree from the University of Oklahoma, amounts of oil being produced from wells, and whether he was using an independent accounting firm.
After receiving investor funds, Loftis typically provided investors with a few checks totaling about $1,000 and then stopped payments altogether. When investors complained, Loftis gave them excuses regarding drilling operations. Meanwhile, he spent money on things like a $190,000 luxury RV.
Loftis is scheduled to be sentenced in Missoula on July 20.
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