Whitesburg KY

Oil-gas employees charged in central Kentucky scheme


Six officials from two related oil and gas companies have been charged in Kentucky with defrauding investors of more than $3 million.

The six were arraigned Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington, and all pleaded not guilty.

They’re charged in an indictment with conspiring to create a scheme to defraud investors from several states who purchased shares in drilling programs.

Charged with conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud are 53- year-old Michael Smith of Lancaster, who is the president of Target Oil and Gas and controlling interest holder of Kentucky and Indiana Oil and Gas; his brother and vice president of Target Oil, 48-year-old Christopher Smith of Prestonsburg; Christopher Smith’s 27-year-old son, Shaun Smith of Cookeville, Tenn.; 58-year-old Ray Garton of Barrackville, W.Va.; 26-year-old Mark Irwin of Cookeville; and 23-year-old Joshua Scott Harris of Hustonville, Ky. Michael Smith, Christopher Smith, Harris and Irwin are also charged with selling securities without a license.

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