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Former oil executive pleads guilty in fraud scheme

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS January 28, 2009, 4:10PM ET


A former oil executive accused of diverting more than $1 million from a Shell Deepwater Development contract for his personal use has pleaded guilty to income tax evasion and mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors say 50-year-old Gregory Courtney, of Jackson, Miss., was an engineer for the Shell Oil Co. subsidiary when he secretly acquired control of a Shell Deepwater vendor, Mercury Equipment and Services Inc., and billed his employer for a fraudulent maintenance contract.

Courtney allegedly pocketed money from that contract but failed to report it as income to the IRS or pay nearly $400,000 in taxes.

The former resident of Mandeville, La., faces up to 25 years in prison and a $350,000 fine following his guilty pleas Wednesday. His sentencing is set for May 6.

Shell Oil is the U.S. arm of oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC, based in The Hague.

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