Jon Campisi Feb. 20, 2014, 4:03pm


The chief executive officer of a western Pennsylvania natural gas drilling company has pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud and forgery charges.

Larry Dean Winckler, 53, of Indiana, Pa., who is the CEO of Falcon Drilling Co., pleaded guilty to seven counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, check forgery, mail fraud and tax fraud, according to David J. Hickton, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Winckler, who pleaded guilty on Feb. 18 before U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry, was accused of conspiring to embezzle more than $9 million from the company by creating forged checks and fake company invoices.

Federal prosecutors contended that Winckler conspired to defraud Falcon through embezzlement of company funds by using forged checks, fake invoices to fictitious or real vendors, and false statements to auditors, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh.

The embezzlement is said to have occurred between 2007 and 2012.

McVerry set sentencing for May 30.

Winckler would face a total number of 74 years in federal prison, a $1.3 million fine, or both.

The IRS’s criminal investigative division and the United States Postal Inspection Services jointly conducted the investigation that led to the defendant’s prosecution by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory C. Melucci.

Falcon Drilling Co. was incorporated in 2001 and drilled its first well in the Marcellus Shale rock formation in 2007, according to bio on the company’s website.

It currently operates 13 drilling rigs capable of drilling between 6,000 and 10,000 feet.

Its primary operating area is in the Marcellus fairway in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Ohio.

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