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Kentucky man sentenced in fake investment scheme

Prosecutors said Rodney Phelps and a co-defendant convinced investors to pour money into an oil venture opportunity involving the government of Belize.

LONDON, Ky. — A Kentucky man has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison for using fake investment schemes to bilk people out of $2.4 million.

Rodney Scott Phelps, 58, of Somerset, was also ordered in federal court last week to pay restitution.

Prosecutors said Phelps and a co-defendant convinced investors to pour money into an oil venture opportunity involving the government of Belize. Another scheme involved investing in various commodities markets and a third convinced victims to invest in a Mississippi casino purchase.

Instead, Phelps and Jason Castenir used the money for operating expenses for their private-equity firm, paid themselves and made Ponzi payments to other investors, prosecutors said.

Phelps was convicted of one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and 12 counts of wire fraud.

Castenir awaits sentencing for his guilty plea to conspiring to commit wire fraud, commodities fraud and money laundering.