Brea Man Gets 2-Year Term, $600,000 Fine in Oil-Gas Scam


A Brea man was sentenced Monday to two years in jail and fined more than $600,000 for defrauding investors of $2 million in a bogus oil- and gas-exploration scheme.

Thomas J. Neavitt Sr., 59, will be eligible for parole in about eight months.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gadboy told Neavitt that it was nearly impossible for the investors to make any money since at least 50% of the company's funds were going to pay for telemarketing services to attract even more customers.

Neavitt operated Red Bird Petroleum, an investment company with offices in Anaheim and Placentia, which solicited money from hundreds of people across the nation from August, 1984, to April, 1986.

Each investor contributed $3,500 for an initial stake in one or more Kentucky oil wells. But many of the wells never existed and those that did were pretty much worthless.

Nevertheless, Red Bird often told investors that their wells had struck oil and then asked for an additional $1,100.

Neavitt had pleaded guilty last month to two counts of mail fraud.

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