- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A North Texas man faces up to 20 years in prison in an oil and gas Ponzi scheme that attracted nearly $6 million in investments before he fled to Oregon.

Jeffrey Watts of Fort Worth pleaded guilty Wednesday to wire fraud.

The 41-year-old Watts was charged in March and arrested in May in Eugene, Oregon. He faces sentencing later this year in Fort Worth.

Investigators say Watts since 2011 ran a scheme to defraud oil and gas investors. He presented himself as founder of a company named Blue Alpha Energy and claimed making investments with another legitimate firm, but instead funneled the money to sham accounts and businesses.

Prosecutors say Watts received nearly $5.8 million from about 45 investors before several learned that no legitimate energy deals existed.

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