Appeals court upholds ex-CFO's 25-year sentence

Staff Report

The Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - A federal appeals court has upheld the 25-year prison sentence of the former finance chief of a West Texas oil and gas drilling company.

Jonathan Dwane Nelson had pleaded guilty to swindling $77 million from Snyder-based Patterson-UTI. But he wanted the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review his sentence, saying the length fell outside punishment guidelines.

Yesterday (Wednesday), the New Orleans-based court disagreed, saying the district court's sentence was reasonable.

Authorities allege Nelson sent the embezzled money to companies he controls, then spent it on an airplane, an airfield, a cattle ranch, homes, vehicles and a truck stop.

At his October sentencing, Nelson also was fined $200,000 and ordered to pay restitution from the sale of assets he'd bought with the stolen money.