Former officer of the law convicted in defrauding ConocoPhillips of millions

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A former Anchorage Police Department officer was convicted of 24 criminal counts on Thursday for his participation in a scheme to defraud a corporation of millions of dollars.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Nathan Michael Keays, 44, was friends with a ConocoPhillips employee, Forrest Wright, 44.

The two conspired to use Keays’s side business, which was Eco Edge Armoring LLC, to defraud ConocoPhillips by approving contracts for goods and services that were never provided. Over the course of the scheme, Keays and Wright obtained more than $3 million from fraudulent bills for foam insulation. Wright had pleaded guilty in 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced in May.

The scheme started in 2019 when Wright was a senior drilling and wells planner with ConocoPhillips, with responsibility for ordering materials and labor for drilling and wells projects. Wright had the authority to approve material and labor orders for up to $1 million and was trusted to recommend vendors for supplies.

Keays conspired with Wright to craft fraudulent emails and alter the Eco Edge Armoring LLC website to present the company as a major oil and gas services enterprise, when in fact, it had no employees and no ability to provide goods or services in the oil industry.

Wright sent emails from his personal account to Keays’s personal account with instructions to send technical emails to Wright’s business account to establish Eco Edge Armoring LLC as an approved vendor. Wright would then forward these emails to other personnel within ConocoPhillips to ensure Keays’s company was approved as a frequently used vendor.

After achieving the approved vendor status, Keays submitted fraudulent invoices totaling over $3.2 million for materials that did not exist and labor that was never performed.

Keays also submitted fraudulent timesheets in the name of nonexistent employees to make it appear that work had actually been performed. Wright used his position in the company to direct personnel to approve the payment of invoices by falsely representing that the nonexistent materials were delivered and accounted for and that the work outlined in the invoices was performed.

Keays received $3,087,720 in electronic payments from ConocoPhillips for the fraudulent material and labor through a bank account for Eco Edge Armoring LLC and split the proceeds with Wright by issuing checks to Spectrum Consulting, a shell entity created by Wright.

In total, Keays personally received more than $1.4 million. Keays used his proceeds of the scheme for personal expenses, including paying off loans, purchasing real estate and buying cryptocurrency.  

Keays was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 11 counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 11 counts of money laundering.

“This successful conviction represents closure in a complex white-collar crime case and demonstrates that no one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “To anyone thinking of committing a financial crime, know that my office, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners across the state, will work vigorously to find you and prosecute you to the furthest extent of the law.”

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hardly a white collar crime. Low-level scheme in which the ConocoPhillips employee knew the right people to defraud. He found a dumb dude in uniform to do whatever he was told to do about creating fictitious shell companies. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the smartest white-collar crime scheme, I’d give this one a “2.”

  2. “This successful conviction represents closure in a complex white-collar crime case and demonstrates that no one is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “To anyone thinking of committing a financial crime, know that my office, in collaboration with our law enforcement partners across the state, will work vigorously to find you and prosecute you to the furthest extent of the law.”
    Great! Now I have a few State agencies you could look into.

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