Developer gets 10 Years for Building/Investor Scam over Fracking Boom


By Jennifer Felten 

“Fracking” is a slang term for “Hydraulic Fracturing”.  Hydraulic Fracturing is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., in order to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.  In other words, inject pressurized liquid deep into the earth and you get oil or natural gas out. 

Fracking is today’s gold rush.  In the last decade, North Dakota has seen quite an energy boom thanks to the fracking process.  This influx of workers also means they need a place to live.  Around many fracking sites, “barracks-style” housing has popped up.  Developer Ronald Johnson, 51, from Minnesota, pitched the idea to many investors of building a real housing development for the influx of workers.  The first would be just outside the town of Williston, North Dakota.  In this small town of around 30,000 people, a one-bedroom apartment can fetch more than $2,000 per month.  Johnson’s plan was to build indoor RV parks for the workers.  These indoor RV Parks would be warehouses where the workers can park their RVs, do laundry, and bathe.  This would be a huge improvement in current living conditions for many workers.

Johnson sent emails and letters to several investors.  This included detailed building renderings and property specifications.  Johnson didn’t actually build the parks with the investors money.  Instead, he paid off some investors through a separate business deal, refinanced a 51-acre cattle farm, and purchased several car, properties, and vacations.

The Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigations discovered the scam.  Johnson was sentenced to 10 years in prison on wire fraud and money laundering charges.  His sentence also includes restitution and a forfeiture order.

Upcoming Class with Escrow Training Institute on SB2

SB2 & The Escrow Business Forum
(Saturday, January 6th)     Tuition: $69

SB2 Class Link

THIS FORUM qualifies for C.E.A. Professional Designation Credits

Enacted into law and effective January 1, 2018, this bill enacts the Building Homes & Jobs Act. The new law will impact both the recording fees you charge and the process you follow. This is a “must attend” event.

Jennifer Felten, Esq. RE LAW APC
Mickey Vandenberg, Williston Financial Group/WFG Title
Lynn Yockey, Granite Escrow & Settlement Services

In this much needed industry workshop, we will cover:

  • The SB 2 Law, history, intent & reality
  • Poorly crafted Bill language & its impact on you and the consumer
  • New Fee assessments from $75.00 – $225.00 per single transaction
  • Impact on you, your Company and your escrow process
  • Estimating fees for TRID compliance (huge impact)
  • Role of County Recorder’s Office – Audits
  • Extensive Question & Answer with our panelists
  • And a whole lot more!

WE believe this workshop will “sell out”. FIRST registered/FIRST paid receive priority. Registration is complete upon payment.

Seating will go fast! And, we have kept the tuition very low!

Location: Ayers Hotel, Costa Mesa               Hours: 10:00 – 1:30

Jennifer FeltenJennifer Felten, Esq., Relaw Ms. Felten specializes in representing both individuals and legal entities, providing representation and guidance on a variety of real estate related matters.  Relaw APC 699 Hampshire Road, Suite 105 Westlake Village, CA  91361 US Phone: (805) 265-1031 or email her at: [email protected] 

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