A former California State University professor was sentenced this week to eight years in prison and fined $329,900 for enticing hundreds of people into investing in bogus oil well projects, postal authorities said Tuesday.
Jason Wallace Smith, 51, of Huntington Beach was found guilty in December of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud and conspiracy.
Smith is a former assistant professor of archeology at Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge. He is the son of former Idaho Atty. Gen. Graydon W. Smith.
From January, 1985, through early 1987, 180 investors nationwide lost nearly $2 million after investing in Smith’s Los Angeles-based Jason Smith Petroleum Corp. Authorities said he used at least $194,000 of the money to finance a lavish lifestyle.
Smith reportedly drilled a dry well in Wyoming but told investors the well was producing 240 barrels of oil daily. He also exaggerated the productivity of other wells, laundering profits through bogus bank accounts here and in the Bahamas, authorities said.