Anchorage police officer, ConocoPhillips official accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud

(Source: Gray News)
Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 11:31 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A ConocoPhillips employee and an Anchorage police officer are accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to court documents that say the two convinced the oil company to pay more than $3 million for work never performed and materials never received.

Federal court documents allege that from February to December 2019, Forrest Wright and Nathan Keays schemed to get ConocoPhillips to pay the money to a business ran by Keays that wasn’t legitimate in the oil and gas sector.

The documents state Keays’ business, Eco Edge Armoring LLC, was set up to perform residential insulation work. But through the scheme, the business was altered online and through documents to present an outward appearance of a legitimate provider of oil and gas materials.

According to court documents, in February 2019, Wright — a senior drilling and wells planner for ConocoPhillips at the time — set up Eco Edge Armoring LLC as a new vendor by providing false information as justification for approval. Court documents state that Wright claimed the business would provide a unique type of rig mat that other vendors couldn’t provide at the time, though the business didn’t have the rig mats in possession or a provisional patent on them.

Around the same time as the vendor approval process, court documents state Wright and Keays were conspiring through email to alter the business website by publishing “factually incorrect statements” to avoid red flags.

The documents state several emails were exchanged to keep up the facade that the business was a legitimate oil and gas industry vendor. Court documents allege that because Keays had no knowledge of the oil and gas industry, Wright would write technical emails to ConocoPhillips but make them appear to be from Keays.

Once the business was approved as a vendor, court documents state Keays submitted false invoices for work and materials that didn’t exist and weren’t delivered. Multiple invoices for labor amounted to nearly $1.2 million, with an additional invoice totaling $62,250 that was never paid out by ConocoPhillips, while invoices to cover materials amounted to over $1.8 million, with an additional invoice of $98,430 that was also not paid out. Court documents state that timecards were also falsified for six people that didn’t exist.

Throughout the scheme, court documents allege Wright received about 50% of all income Keays’ company received from ConocoPhillips, amounting to over $1.6 million. The money was paid to Spectrum Consulting Services — a company Wright set up — and was used for travel expenses, restaurants, casinos, cash withdrawals, living expenses and the purchase of 17 homes in Las Vegas.

The Anchorage Police Department released the following statement from Chief Justin Doll on Keays involvement in the scheme:

“Officer misconduct will not be tolerated, and this allegation is in no way a reflection on the dedication and professionalism of the men and women who continue to serve Anchorage residents.”

APD says Keays was recently placed on unpaid administrative leave on Aug. 27 after being on paid administrative leave since Dec. 12, 2019.

Wright and Keays are both expected in federal court on Sept. 25.

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