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Second person charged in Washington Co. land fraud case

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 11:12 a.m.

Federal prosecutors filled in some blanks in a Washington County land fraud case by charging a second person.

In August, a federal grand jury indicted Derek A. Candelore, 33, of Hempfield on five counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. The indictment says Candelore and a second person identified only as “WJR” were landmen for Penn-Star Energy of Butler County.

In an information filed Wednesday, prosecutors charged William J. Ray, 29, of Monroeville on three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud tied to the same conspiracy. Federal prosecutors charge someone in an information, instead of seeking an indictment, when that person is cooperating with the investigation and has agreed to plead guilty.

Court records did not list an attorney for Ray.

Candelore and Ray used forged signatures and documents, fake names and fake companies to make it look like they had acquired mineral rights to multiple parcels that they then sold to Range Resources and several other businesses and investment firms, prosecutors said.

They conducted the transactions without the knowledge of the people who actually own the mineral rights, prosecutors said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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