Denton man sentenced in drilling scheme

PLANO, Texas (AP) - A Dallas-area man has been sentenced to 17½ years in prison and ordered to repay nearly $18 million after pleading guilty to fraud in an oil and natural gas drilling scheme.

U.S. Attorney John M. Bales said Monday that 50-year-old Michael Eugene Dannelly of Denton was sentenced in federal court last week on a charge of mail fraud.

Authorities allege that Dannelly bilked investors out of nearly $17.7 million that they thought was being used to drill oil and natural gas wells in Texas and Oklahoma. Instead, authorities say Dannelly used the money mostly for personal expenses, including $5.3 million on gambling at two Louisiana casinos.

Dannelly pleaded guilty in August, four months after he was indicted.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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