U.S. Attorney's Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
(717) 221-4482
November 12, 2015

Monroe County Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Making False Claims of Owning Billions of Dollars of Oil and Negotiable Bank Instruments

WILKES-BARRE—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Richard J. Harley, age 71, of Shawnee on the Delaware, Pennsylvania was sentenced in Federal District Court in Wilkes-Barre to serve 12 years in prison by United States District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo. Harley was convicted after a two-week jury trial of 23 counts of wire fraud, bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements on bankruptcy schedules on December 15, 2014. Harley was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $323,800. Harley was ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons on November 23, 2015 to commence the sentence.

According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Harley defrauded investors and attempted to defraud the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and several financial institutions by soliciting money based on false claims that his company, RJH and Co. Inc., owned 10 million barrels of oil in Texas worth over $1 billion and had “unrestricted bond power” over $5 trillion in federal reserve bank instruments supposedly held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As a result of the fraud, investors lost approximately $323,800.

The bank fraud charge relates to Harley’s attempt to deposit two phony $500 million checks purportedly issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York into several financial institutions. Harley also filed three fraudulent bankruptcy petitions in 2010, 2011 and 2012 where he attempted to discharge the debt he owed to one of the primary victims of the oil scheme.

Harley was previously convicted of mail and wire fraud and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in 2001 for a scheme that defrauded AIDS patients and investors relating to a fraudulent ozone-enema treatment he claimed cured AIDS. The jury verdict in the latest case relates to activities that occurred immediately after Harley was released from federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Brandler, Chief of the Criminal Division.

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