The Securities and Exchange Commission is filing fraud charges against a former Bartlesville investor and a businesswoman.
The SEC says Larry Dearman, Sr., 40, and Marya Gray, 50, raised at least $4.7 million through illegal schemes.
Court documents say Dearman may have ripped off more than 30 of his clients. One lawyer said Dearman would prey on widows, by getting them to invest in Gray's businesses and then the two would pocket the cash.
Marya Gray is the owner of The Property Shoppe, Quench Buds and Bartnet Communications. Her friend, Dearman, is an investment agent.
Court documents show Dearman raised $320,000 by getting at least two of his clients to invest in Quench Buds, which is a drive-through store for cold drinks.
The Commission says, without the investors' knowledge, Gray transferred $275,000 to her other business, Bartnet Communications, paid $20,000 to Dearman and paid $10,000 to partially repay a Bartnet investor, then pocketed the rest.
Records reveal the duo raised nearly $2 million through sales of stock in another Gray-controlled company, called The Property Shoppe.
Documents say Dearman would tell investors they were purchasing repossessed homes to remodel and flip for profit, but that never happened.
The commission says, over a three-year period, Gray and Dearman used Bartnet Communications to make more than $2.7 million.
Court documents show Gray took $1,880,000 to pay her personal expenses and to feed her gambling habit, then she paid about $336,221 to Dearman and never told the investors about it.
The schemes finally came to light when a trustee for one of Dearman's clients emailed Dearman, questioning the suitability of two of Dearman's recommended investments. Dearman was then fired from his job and his company reported his misconduct to the commission.
We tried to contact Marya Gray, but she wasn't home. There's no contact information for Larry Dearman.
Former investors want their money back. There are nearly two dozen lawsuits against Dearman and Gray in Washington and Osage Counties.