By BRAD KELLAR
A Collin County man has been convicted and sentenced to prison and probation for his role in a reported scheme to sell shares in a non-existent power plant project in Hunt County.
Kenneth Paul Lawrence was convicted July 19 of two charges. The next week, Lawrence was sentenced to five years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division on a charge of money laundering and to 10 years, with the sentence probated, on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity, according to a release from the Texas State Securities Board.
Lawrence was one of six defendants indicted by a Collin County grand jury in connection with the Greenway Energy Partners scheme.
Ronnie Gene Nichols Jr., pleaded guilty in March 2011 to one count of theft of property of the value of $100,000 but less than $200,000 by aggregate amount. Under a plea bargain arrangement Nichols, who was already incarcerated in state prison an on unrelated charge, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Lawrence was the proposed operator of the biodiesel plant and received money from Greenway Energy Partners LLC, the managing partner of the energy project. Greenway raised more than $800,000 through the fraudulent sale of investments, and Lawrence received $265,000 of that total.
Lawrence was prosecuted in cooperation with the Collin County District Attorney’s Office. State Securities Board enforcement attorneys Dale Barron, Tina Lawrence, and Alexis Goldate served as special prosecutors in the case.
In 2003, the Texas Securities Commissioner entered an Agreed Cease and Desist Order that fined Lawrence for selling unregistered oil and gas securities and ordered him to stop selling the securities. Lawrence has never been registered in Texas to sell securities.
It was unknown as of Friday whether indictments remain pending against Ricky Ray Knowles, John David Riddle,Casey Ray Vanloon and Gene Michael McKinney.
Knowles, Riddle, Vanloon and McKinney are each facing 14 counts of theft , one count of money laundering and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity.
Lawrence was facing 21 counts of securities fraud, one count of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of money laundering.
The defendants were alleged to have been involved with the Greenway Bio-Plant Joint Venture in Hunt County, which allegedly bilked 19 people out of almost $800,000 between September 2008 and September 2009.
According to a report from the Securities Board, Lawrence misrepresented that his company, Greenway Energy Partners, L.L.C., and/or the Greenway Bio-Plant Joint Venture had entered into an agreement with Sunx Energy, Inc., to build a biodiesel plant in Hunt County.
Lawrence also allegedly told investors they would receive annual returns on their investments of 33 percent for a period of five years, but failed to disclose that previous investors’ funds were used to pay his personal expenses. He also failed to disclose that previous investors’ funds were used to pay for the expenses of projects other than the Greenway Bio-Plant Joint Venture, including oil and gas projects and other alternative fuel projects.