Robert Helms, Janniece Kaelin, and Vendetta Royalty Partners Accused of Ponzi Scheme

Robert A. Helms and Janniece S. Kaelin perpetrated a Texas-based Ponzi scheme through their partnership, Vendetta Royalty, and sold fraudulent investments in oil and gas projects, the SEC charged.

Helms and Kaelin, working out of an Austin office, allegedly deceived investors into believing that they had extensive oil-and-gas industry experience and raised nearly $18 million for supposed purchases of oil-and-gas royalty interests.

They allegedly assured investors that nearly all of the money raised would be used to make oil and gas investments but instead used only a minute fraction of the proceeds for that purpose using, instead, most of the funds for themselves, their businesses and to make Ponzi payments.

Deven Sellers of Arvada, Colo., and Roland Barrera of Costa Mesa, Calif. were also charged with illegally selling investments for Helms and Kaelin without being registered brokers. They also allegedly misled investors into thinking they were receiving small commissions when in fact they received about $200,000 each.

Helms and Kaelin began offering investments in 2011 through Vendetta Royalty Partners, a limited partnership they control, according to the complaint. Since then, they gained at least 80 investors in more than twelve states while promising that they would use more than 99% of the investment proceeds to acquire a lucrative collection of oil-and-gas royalty interests.

However, they invested only 10% of the proceeds, and the projects they invested in produced very minimal returns.

They instructed Vendetta Royalty Partners to make approximately $5.9 million in so-called partnership income distributions using money from newer investors to make distributions to earlier investors creating the illusion that Vendetta Royalty was a profitable enterprise.

Helms and Kaelin omitted to disclose the fact that they are defendants in a pending litigation, misrepresented performances of limited oil-and-gas royalty investments under their management, and failed to disclose that Vendetta Royalty was behind on its line of credit.

The Court issued a temporary restraining order, freezing of defendant’s assets, and granted SEC’s request for accounting, and expedited recovery. The SEC further asked for permanent injunctions, prejudgment interest, penalties and the expulsion of ill-gotten gains.

The Peiffer Wolf securities attorneys often represent investors who lose money as a result of Ponzi schemes, investment fraud, or stockbroker misconduct. They are currently investigating the possibility of assisting investors the victims with the recovery of their investment losses. They take most cases of this type on a contingency fee basis and advance the case costs, and only get paid for their fees and costs out of money they recover for their clients.

Investors who believe they lost money as a result of investment fraud or misconduct may contact the securities lawyers at Peiffer Wolf, Jason Kane or Joe Peiffer, for a free, no obligation evaluation of their recovery options, at 585-310-5140.

Peiffer Wolf (1296 Posts)


In our legal system, every person is innocent until and unless found guilty by a court of law or a tribunal. Whenever we reference “allegations” or charges that are “alleged,” such allegations or charges have not been proven, and are merely accusations, not findings of fault, as of the date of the blog. We do not have, nor do we undertake, a duty to continue to monitor or follow cases about which we report, and/or to publish subsequent blogs regarding various developments that may occur in such cases. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research regarding any such cases and any developments that may or may not have occurred in such cases.