Prosecutors say a convicted Ponzi schemer operated a sophisticated oil and gas fraud from his federal prison cell in Jefferson County that earned him more than $700,000 in the two years before he escaped in late 2018.
Allen Todd May, who also goes by the name Alan May, was charged June 22 with 10 counts of wire fraud, seven counts of mail fraud and one count of escape — all federal charges. May, 57, could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
But first, police will have to find him.
May has been on the lam since Dec. 21, 2018. He was six years into a 20-year prison sentence for mail fraud when, on that day, he stole a Bureau of Prisons work truck and drove off the grounds of the low-security Federal Correctional Institution – Englewood without anyone noticing, according to media reports. A day later, the federal government shut down and U.S. marshals couldn’t get new funding to search for May.
When funding was restored a month later, police determined he had rented a U-Haul along West Alameda soon after his escape, according to media reports. The prison truck was found near the U-Haul location and the U-Haul was found abandoned in Fort Worth, Tex.
In the two years before his successful flight from federal prison, May is accused of tricking four states into sending money to him and an alleged accomplice identified only as L.M.
When oil companies can’t find the people or businesses they owe royalties to, they turn those royalties over to state governments, which create online databases of the unclaimed money. May is accused of using those databases to find unclaimed royalties, creating companies with the same name as the companies that were owed the money, then collecting the money.
The money was sent to bank accounts L.M. created for each of the phony businesses “and May gave L.M. directions about how, when and where to deposit those checks so that May would be able to spend the fraudulently obtained funds” from behind bars, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors allege that May boldly coordinated the scheme from inside the federal prison, giving L.M. instructions from prison phones, sending emails about how L.M. could deposit a $250,000 check, and filing phony claims with state agencies using prison mail.
Before May allegedly ran a fraudulent oil and gas scheme from prison, he was sent to prison for admittedly running a fraudulent oil and gas scheme.
May pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, a federal felony, in Texas in 2010 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2012. He admitted to bilking investors out of $7 million by falsely claiming to owe prosperous energy leases, then selling interests in those nonexistent leases and paying old investors with money taken from new investors — a Ponzi scheme.