Courts & Crime

Trial begins in alleged $33 million Kentucky oil and gas drilling scam

Three people alleged to have been involved in an oil and gas well drilling scam in which about 500 investors lost more than $33 million went on trial in federal court in Lexington on Tuesday.

Bryan S. Coffman and his wife, Megan Coffman, of Lexington, and Gary Milby of Campbellsville face numerous charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. They, along with Vadim "Victor" Tsatskin of Canada, were indicted in December 2009 on 30 criminal counts pertaining to the alleged scheme.

There's not enough oil in Kentucky to make whole the investors who poured their money into the fraudulent drilling programs with which the defendants were affiliated, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor told jurors in his opening argument in the case.

The promised gushers and thousands of dollars in returns on their money each month didn't materialize, he said. All together, the investors had less than $1 million of their money returned to them, he said.

The defendants used their money for things such as cars, jewelry, yachts, lavish birthday parties and retirement accounts, Taylor said.

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