A Newport Beach man who pleaded not guilty to stealing money from his oil and gas business' clients is scheduled to go to trial next month.
Thomas Labry, who had his Costa Mesa-based Cherokee Gas Systems Inc. shut down earlier this year by the Securities and Exchange Commission, pleaded not guilty May 3 to stealing more than $1.4 million of his clients' money between 2008 and 2009.
Labry is accused of using automated equipment to make cold calls to Oklahoma residents offering them pieces of land to develop oil and natural gas wells for $25,000 a piece. He collected more than $1.4 million from his clients then used the money on himself instead of land development, according to the SEC. He had promised clients an annual 35% return on their investment.