By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Colorado man has pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from two schemes to defraud investors in Wyoming and elsewhere in the United States, officials announced Friday.
On Tuesday, Robert William Mitchell, 52, of Centennial, Colorado, entered guilty pleas related to an indictment alleging separate, but related, investor frauds.
First, Mitchell pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud investors in a Wyoming natural gas production venture.
According to court records, Mitchell solicited investments he claimed would be used to create a publicly traded natural gas production company in Wyoming.
Instead of developing any company or protecting the investors’ money, Mitchell used the money to pay his personal expenses and continue financing the scheme.
Mitchell stole over $1.3 million from about three dozen investors, most of whom lived in and around Gillette, according to the indictment.
Second, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in relation to the common stock of NuTech Energy Resources Inc.
According to court records, Mitchell conspired to artificially inflate the market price of NuTech common stock by manipulative trading and by releasing to the public false and misleading information about NuTech’s business prospects.
Mitchell then sold his worthless NuTech shares to unwitting investors in the public market.
The indictment also charged three other men with crimes arising from the alleged conspiracy. Their jury trial will begin on Sept. 20 in Cheyenne.
As a result of his guilty pleas, Mitchell may be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, along with three years of supervised release.
In addition, he faces fines up to $250,000, as well as possibly being ordered to pay restitution to the victims.
Mitchell is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson in Cheyenne on Aug. 4.
These crimes were investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General.