Second Petro America figure gets lengthy prison term

10/09/2013 2:23 PM

10/09/2013 10:01 PM

A second Petro America Corp. defendant, Johnny Heurung, was sentenced Wednesday to long jail time.

Heurung, a Minnesota resident who talked weekly about Petro America during conference calls with investors, was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison, U.S. prosecutors said. At a trial this spring, prosecutors had called Heurung the pitch man for the scheme.

Heurung had been convicted on one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy. The government had asked for a 20-year sentence.

Heurung also was ordered to pay more than $10 million in restitution. That’s the amount that federal prosecutors said 12,000 investors lost in the Petro America stock scheme.

Shares of the Kansas City-based company frequently were pitched through religious themes or by local ministers, often to unsophisticated investors with little money to invest.

Petro’s pitch included the claim that its assets totaled $284 billion including gold mines and oil fields.

Participants in the scheme sold stock even after Missouri regulators ordered a halt to the sales. Many shares were given away to ministers and others to sell.

On Tuesday, Petro America founder Isreal Owen Hawkins Jr. was sentenced to 30 years in prison for six felony convictions.

Hawkins and Heurung were convicted by a federal jury along with three others. Nine other Petro America defendants pleaded guilty before the trial.

Two others in the case got three months’ probation: Teresa Hill and Charles Hooker, both of Kansas City.

They pleaded guilty to charges before the trial and cooperated as witnesses for the government. Prosecutors sought lower sentences for them than normal guidelines would suggest. Each also was ordered to pay $226,381 in restitution.

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