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Fort Bend County News

Needville Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Role in Illegal Kickback and Insider Trading Scheme

A 56-year-old man from Needville, Texas, has been sentenced to federal prison for his involvement in an illegal kickback scheme and commodities insider trading scheme involving natural gas futures contracts.

Matthew Clark pleaded guilty on March 15 to charges of honest services wire fraud, commodities insider trading, and prohibited commodities transactions. U.S. District Judge George C. Hanks sentenced Clark to 78 months in prison and ordered him to pay $7,709,509 in restitution and forfeit $6,532,360. Judge Hanks noted that Clark made a calculated decision to commit these offenses despite the risk of being caught, describing his actions as "gambled and lost."

Court documents revealed that Clark conspired with others to direct his employer’s trades to Houston-based brokerage firm Classic Energy LLC, owned by Matthew Webb, 54, of Tiki Island, in exchange for illegal kickbacks. Clark collaborated with John Ed James, 54, of Katy, and Peter Miller, 49, of Puerto Rico, receiving over $5.5 million in illegal kickbacks.

Webb pleaded guilty in June 2021 to conspiracy to commit commodities fraud, wire fraud, and violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. James also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and commodities fraud and is set to be sentenced on July 1. Miller admitted to conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and is scheduled for sentencing on June 20.

In related cases, Marcus Schultz, 44, of Houston, and Lee Tippett, 64, of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty to similar charges. Schultz is scheduled for sentencing on July 1, while Tippett was sentenced to 33 months in prison in August 2021.

Clark has been allowed to remain on bond and will voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined later. The FBI conducted the investigation.

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