Former Oil CEO Pleads Guilty in Stock Scheme

The former chief executive of a now defunct Houston-based oil and gas company has pleaded guilty to making a false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle said Wednesday.

John N. Ehrman, 53, the former CEO of Rocky Mountain Energy admitted during a court hearing Tuesday to misrepresenting the amount of outstanding shares in his company. The charge was part of a July 2007 13-count indictment in which prosecutors accused Ehrman of devising a scheme to inflate the price and trading volume of his company's stock.

Ehrman, of the Houston suburb The Woodlands, could receive up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $5 million when he is sentenced Jan. 29.

His attorney, Donald Petrillo, did not immediately return a telephone call on Wednesday.

Prosecutors accused Ehrman of falsely reporting to the SEC that Rocky Mountain had issued five million new shares as part of a deal to buy several oil and gas leases from BC&D Oil and Gas. in 2002. However, more than 10 million shares were actually issued as part of the deal, which later fell through.