Waco man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for a
scheme that deceived numerous victims, including several former law
enforcement, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas
Erin Nealy Cox.
Richard Lee Burney, 50, pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud.
In plea papers, Burney admitted to defrauding a number of Texas
ranchland owners. Those victims included a retiree of the Lubbock County
Sheriff’s Office and a former Department of Public Safety Trooper who
served the public for 35 years.
According to court documents, Burney devised a scheme in which he
stated he was working in the timber business alongside the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with the cleanup effort in
North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew made landfall there in 2016.
Burney admitted to fraudulently claiming, that in connection with his
work, he entered into a “lease buy-back” program that would allow him
to lease equipment from a Bobcat Company dealership, use the equipment
for the FEMA projects, and then resell the equipment at significantly
discounted prices to individual buyers who agreed to reserve purchases
with partial or full down payments.
Burney sent emails and text messages to victims to assure them that
the equipment would be available. Burney never followed through on his
promise to deliver the equipment to any of his victims or refund the
money he schemed from them.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, Lubbock
Resident Agency and the Texas Rangers conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey prosecuted the case. U.S. District
Judge James Wesley Hendrix handed down the sentence.