- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - A North Texas man must serve nearly seven years in federal prison and repay $4.6 million for running an oil and gas Ponzi scheme.

Jeffrey Watts of Fort Worth was sentenced Thursday. The 41-year-old Watts last July pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a scheme operating since 2011.

Prosecutors say Watts, who was arrested last May in Eugene, Oregon, presented himself as the founder of a company named Blue Alpha Energy.

Watts claimed to be making investments with another legitimate firm, but instead funneled the money to sham accounts and businesses.

Investigators say Watts duped more than 40 investors, plus several business partners and employees who believed the operations were legitimate.

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