Arael Doolittle has been charged with taking $1.2 million from 21 investors through fake oil and gas deals. A federal grand jury returned a 12-count indictment.
Mr Doolittle operated Sariel Petroleum and Sariel Enterprises. He had an associate, a Houston realtor, pose as a distillates trader working for Chevron. The associate established a bank account in the name of Chevron USA Products, without permission from Chevron.
In 2017 Doolittle persuaded Dominion Resources Trading (‘DRT’), a small outfit in Las Vegas to work with him to find investors for oil and gas transactions he was working on. DRT ultimately forwarded on $1.25 million from 21 investors to Sariel Petroleum. Doolittle provided falsified records to DRT that appeared to show $1,209,600 of the funds has been used to buy product from Citgo.
Doolittle created letterhead and emails that appeared to come from Chevron. He also persuaded an attorney and a banker to provide attestation letters and assurances to potential customers and investors.
In a separate case in the Southern District of Texas, Chevron sued Sariel Petroleum in January 2018 for trademark infringement. After a jury trial, Chevron was awarded a $15.6 million judgement against Sariel in April 2020.
Doolittle is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of engaging in monetary transactions in criminally derived funds. Wire fraud carries a potential 20-year-maximum sentence and a possible $250,000 maximum fine. If convicted of any of the other four counts, he faces the same fines and up to 10 years imprisonment.