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Montague Grand Jury Indicts 10 People In Oil Thefts

An oil drilling rig is seen on September 29, 2010. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

An oil drilling rig is seen on September 29, 2010. (credit: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

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MONTAGUE (AP) – A Montague grand jury has returned 23 sealed felony indictments against 10 people in the theft of more than $1 million worth of oil from North Texas wells, an official said.

Seven people were indicted this month and three others were indicted midyear as part of an ongoing three-year investigation, Capt. Kevin Benton of the Wise County Sheriff’s Department told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday.

Benton said he expects additional indictments as well.

The suspects’ names aren’t being released because the indictments are sealed, he said. Also, he said, some of those indicted haven’t been arrested.

Some of those indicted were truck drivers for companies that haul salty wastewater from wells, said Benton, who added that the companies themselves are not suspected of wrongdoing.

The drivers “were going to remote locations in the dead of night and loading oil instead of water,” Benton said.

Some of those indicted were not drivers for the water haulers, but got keys to the trucks, he said.

“We’ve had oil stolen from Wise County, from Montague County and from Denton County,” Benton said. “That oil was all being sold in Montague County.”

He said the person buying the oil was selling it to “legitimate … small and intermediate-sized companies” that apparently were not aware the oil was stolen.

The indictments are for offenses including theft, organized criminal activity and conspiracy, Benton said. Maximum sentences for convictions range from two to 99 years, he said.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)