Oil & Gas News

Guilty plea in Oklahoma federal court related to Continental Resources’ civil case

Hamm, Continental, Oklahoma, Guilty

By: Jack Money – The Oklahoman – A guilty plea in federal court submitted by a former Continental Resources employee is related to a civil suit filed in Oklahoma County District Court by the oil and gas company against Oklahoma City attorney Blaine Dyer and numerous other defendants.

The former employee, Justin Biggs, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jodi Dishman in Oklahoma City on Nov. 20, 2020, to one count accusing him of conspiring to commit honest services fraud.

The civil suit filed by Continental Resources against Dyer and numerous other defendants was highlighted by a story published last week in The Oklahoman after the oil and gas company visited a property Dyer had listed for sale, prompting one of Dyer’s tenants to file a lawsuit against Continental in May.

In a lawsuit it filed on April 20, 2020, Continental Resources accused Dyer and numerous co-conspirators of working with at least one of its employees to cheat the company out of millions of dollars “through a series of fraudulent, disguised transactions using Continental’s most confidential business information” involving its future drilling plans.

Continental Resources claims Dyer and his colleagues used Continental Resources’ information to acquire large blocks of mineral rights it expected the company would seek to buy before drilling those lands, then sold those to Continental at much higher values than what they had paid.

Continental stated through filings it doesn’t have a complete estimate of how much it overpaid for minerals as a result of the alleged scheme, given “extensive efforts to disguise and conceal the transactions and launder the proceeds” by defendants targeted as part of its suit.

However, its filings estimate it lost more than $5 million, over time.

Oklahoma County District Court records show Continental Resources originally included Biggs as a defendant in its civil suit. However, it dismissed him as a defendant in that case on Dec. 9, 2020.

Dyer named co-conspirator in Continental federal case

According to federal court documents, Biggs testified in a plea petition that he had worked for Continental Resources as a landman from March 2011 through March 2020.

Biggs stated he voluntarily conspired with several people including Blaine Dyer “to unlawfully share Continental’s confidential drilling and leasing plans in exchange for a share in the resulting profits from the purchase and sale of certain leaseholds.”

He testified that Dyer, who is named as a co-conspirator in a transcript involving Biggs’ pleading, had emailed him in December 2013, asking the landman to provide the attorney with Continental Resources’ information in exchange for a cut of money both Continental Resources’ civil suit and federal prosecutors claim the defendants obtained through their scheme.

He also testified that he had received and deposited four checks from co-conspirators as part of the scheme.

Biggs has not yet been sentenced, but he faces a maximum of five years of imprisonment or a fine of $250,000, or both, plus a term of supervised release that could last up to two years.

Joe White, part of a team of attorneys representing Dyer in his civil suit against Continental Resources, said Monday “I cannot speak to why Justin Biggs said what he said at his plea. I’m not his lawyer. My client is innocent.”.

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