Man Accused of Swindling Oil Investors Pleads Guilty Wednesday Morning in Wichita County Court
Original Article by Trish Choate, Wichita Falls Times Record News Published 11:51 a.m. CT July 10, 2019 | Updated 4:30 p.m. CT July 10, 2019
A man accused of bilking investors who thought they were funding oil wells entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning, halting his trial at the Wichita County Courthouse, officials said.
The money-laundering indictment shows at least 12 victims of unlawful appropriation of funds as a result of criminal activity from Dec. 17, 2007, to March 26, 2009.
The last appropriation listed is $48,560 in Wichita County from Lars Gravaas, according to court records.
Before trial, Texas State Securities Board lawyers disclosed names of at least 67 witnesses who might be called, according to court documents.
Prosecutors allege Walsh stole money from investors under the guise that their funds would finance drilling oil wells in Galveston County.
Among the hundreds if not thousands of pages of court records in Walsh’s case, prosecutors filed notice of other offenses they allege Walsh committed from late 2006 to early August 2014 in Wichita, Coryell, Galveston, Harris, Lampasas, Lubbock and Williamson counties.
In 2005, the agency began investigating him and his company, Western Capital Inc., accumulating evidence at least since then, according to defense motions.
Each charge is a first-degree felony punishable with five to 99 years, or life, in prison.
Walsh was sentenced to 18 years in state prison on July 12 after reaching a plea agreement in his fraud trial in Wichita County.
Attorneys with the Texas State Securities Board prosecuted the case.
Gordan Mickan, right, answers questions, Tuesday, in the 30th district courtroom during Christopher Daniel Walsh’s trial. Mickane of Copperas Cove testified that he lost money he invested with Western Capital, Walsh’s company, to drill oil wells in Galveston County. (Photo: CHRISTOPHER WALKER/TIMES RECORD NEWS)
Daniel Christopher Walsh: Sentenced, 18 Years
Jul 12, 2019
Walsh pleaded guilty to money laundering on July 10 in the 30th District Court, where he had been indicted on first-degree felony charges of theft, money laundering, and securing execution of a document by deception.
Walsh was indicted on the theft charge for stealing $492,090 from 12 investors who purchased investments in oil wells that were supposed to be drilled in the High Island section of eastern Galveston County.
The victims included a retired real estate broker in Houston and an instructor and pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.
Walsh, the CEO of Houston-based Western Capital Inc., told investors their money would pay for the drilling and testing of High Island wells named Sun Fee #1 and #2. The wells were supposed to be turnkey projects, a financing arrangement in which investors pay a set amount and the promoter assumes all financial responsibility for drilling the well.
Walsh mostly used investors’ money to pay his personal expenses – including a $6,000-a-month mortgage – and other costs unrelated to the Sun Fee wells.
Walsh initially raised money for the High Island wells from 2007 to 2009. When he attracted additional investors for the project, Walsh did not disclose how he had misused earlier investor funds.
Walsh was prosecuted by the Wichita County District Attorney’s Office with the assistance of Texas State Securities Board enforcement attorneys, whom the district attorney’s office appointed as special prosecutors.