A federal judge in Dallas apparently thinks the “Frack Master” should serve more than 12 years in prison and should receive more punishment that proposed by prosecutors.
“It’s just not good enough for me,” said Judge Jane J. Boyle after looking at the plea agreement reached with Christopher Faulkner, the man accused of bilking millions of dollars out of oil investors.
She bluntly told him and an assistant prosecutor she would not accept the bargain.
“You can talk about this. You can go back to the drawing board. I just don’t think it’s enough,” said the judge according to the Dallas Morning News.
In the agreement, Faulkner pleaded guilty and faced up to 12 years in prison for securities fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. The plea deal between the government and Faulkner can now be renegotiated and presented to the judge, or Faulkner can change his plea to not guilty and take his chances in a trial.
Faulkner’s sentencing had been postponed at the end of March, and was again postponed Tuesday with the plea bargain rejection.
Faulkner, known by the self-bestowed moniker “Frack Master,”leveraged fake degrees and what little business experience he had to convince the business, political and media elite that he was an expert in the oil and gas industry. Federal officials have said he had no background in the industry.
Federal agents have been investigating Faulkner and his businesses as far back as 2015. He faced criminal repercussions for the first time last June, when he was arrested and charged with money laundering and fraud in what authorities previously described as an $80 million fraud case.
Authorities found that Faulkner grossly inflated costs to his investors. In one case highlighted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Faulkner inflated an $80,000 land purchase to $8.2 million. The government said he spent those proceeds and more from the company on his lavish lifestyle.
Faulkner admitted to federal authorities that he “diverted approximately $23 million for his own personal benefit” over five years while operating his Dallas-based oil and gas company Breitling Energy.
The SEC effectively shut down Breitling in 2016 for misusing $23.8 million of the $80 million it raised. The SEC later brought another suit against Faulkner, alleging he “repackaged” his oil fraud blueprint to start a real estate scheme in California.
Faulkner “brazenly misappropriated at least $30 million of investors’ funds for extravagant personal expenses, including lavish meals and entertainment, international travel, cars, jewelry, gentlemen’s clubs, and personal escorts,” according to the SEC lawsuit.