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Tulsa's CFS founder indicted

Updated:

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The founder and chief executive officer of a collapsed credit company was charged with 58 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering under a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

The charges against Bill Bartmann involved an alleged scheme to profit from misled investors in the Tulsa-based company, Commercial Financial Services. Those investors lost more than $1 billion when the company closed in 1999.

CFS, which employed 3,900 workers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, bought long-overdue accounts from credit card companies and then sold bonds based on its ability to collect those debts.

Bartmann, of Tulsa, is accused of falsely inflating company performance and using money from new bond issues to pay off old ones.

If convicted, Bartmann, 54, faces up to 700 years in prison and fines up to twice the victims' losses. He surrendered Tuesday and has initial court appearance at 3 p.m., U.S. Attorney David E. O'Meilia said.

Bartmann's indictment comes about three months after Jay Lowell Jones, former CFS executive vice president, pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges. He awaits sentencing.

In the plea agreement, Jones agreed to testify against Bartmann and other CFS executives.
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