Robert Allen Helms and Janniece S. Kaelin were indicted Feb. 2 in U.S. District Court in Austin on conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud charges based on their sales of investments in oil and gas royalties.
Helms and Kaelin operated their company as a Ponzi scheme, according to the indictment, paying purported returns to investors with money that came from other investors.
The pair also forged documents related to their business activities, transferred funds from investors into their personal accounts, and used investors’ money to make mortgage payments, pay college tuition, and take at least one vacation.
The pair defrauded investors of “millions of dollars,” according to the indictment. From 2010 through 2013, the defendants and sales agents working for them sold limited partnership interests in Vendetta Royalty Partners Ltd. and Iron Rock Royalty Partners LP, among other ventures Helms and Kaelin controlled.
Helms and Kaelin represented that they had purchased certain assets for the royalties scheme when in fact they had not acquired the assets. The pair also forged documents to make it appear that an engineering firm audited and agreed with an estimate of the value of Vendetta’s assets. No audit was done, according to the indictment.
In late 2011 and early 2012, Vendetta transferred $2 million to Haley Oil Co., which Helms and Kaelin controlled. Haley Oil transferred the money back to Vendetta to make it appear Vendetta had received revenue from Haley.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is prosecuting the case. The case was investigated by the State Securities Board, FBI, and the U.S. Secret Service, which are continuing to assist the prosecution.