An Oklahoma-based wedding singer and former financial adviser has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for swindling clients that gave him a total of least $4.7 million to invest for them.
The complaint, which was filed on Aug. 27 in the U.S. District Court in Tulsa, Okla., alleges that Larry J. Dearman, Sr. invested his clients in various businesses that his close friend, Marya Gray, owned in nearby Bartlesville.
According to the SEC complaint, from December 2008 to August 2012, Dearman and Gray misled investors about the safety of the investments and how their funds would be used, telling them, for example, that investor funds would be used to purchase equipment for one of Gray’s companies, Bartnet Wireless Internet, Inc.
“In truth, however, Gray and Dearman squandered the vast majority of investor funds on gambling, personal expenses and Ponzi payments. The complaint also alleges that Dearman stole roughly $700,000 from some of his clients through various ruses,” the SEC said in a statement.
In addition to Bartnet Wireless, the northwest Oklahoma convenience store chain Quench Buds and shell company The Property Shoppe Inc. also were named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Dearman was “able to lure these clients in part because many of them had known him and his family since childhood, thought of him as an active member of their church, and knew him as a popular local wedding singer,” the complaint states.