- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Prosecutors say a Central Texas lawyer and his business associate have pleaded guilty in a $30 million scam involving bogus oil and gas investments.

Robert Allen Helms and Janniece S. Kaelin, both of Austin, each pleaded guilty Tuesday to securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud and mail fraud.

Helms and Kaelin face up to 10-year federal prison terms and making restitution over what investigators have called a Ponzi scheme. Authorities say clients were defrauded between 2010 and 2013, with funds meant for energy-related investments instead used for personal expenses of Helms and Kaelin.

Prosecutors say Helms and Kaelin operated Austin-based Vendetta Royalty Partners and forged documents to create the appearance of mineral and royalty operations.

Helms and Kaelin remain free on bond pending sentencing in Austin.

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