A local Texas story about oil, family feuds, a maybe-shady accountant and the IRS, turned up in bookstores this week and is sure to set the town's tongues to wagging.

"Wildcatters: The True Story of How Conspiracy, Greed and the IRS Almost Destroyed a Legendary Texas Oil Family" (Regnery Publishing) was written by oil baron Charlie Moncrief and charts the six-year saga that began when the IRS raided the family business in 1994 as part of a large tax fraud investigation.

The government ultimately chose not to pursue criminal charges and the family paid $23 million in 1996 to settle the case, but the story goes way beyond the government charges and makes for a helluva yarn.

Moncrief’s grandfather, W.A. "Monty" Moncrief struck the proverbial oil back in the 1930 East Texas oilfields, and his son, W.A. "Tex" Moncrief spun that fortune into oil and gas wells nationwide.

By the time the IRS targeted the family business, it had become a paragon of Texas oil wealth and charity work. The family has given away millions to Texas Christian University and the University of Texas-Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Center.

But nothing prepared the family for the feuding and finger-pointing that began that day in 1994 when federal agents carted off truckloads of company documents while news cameras rolled.

Charlie Moncrief has been taking notes on the case ever since that day, and claims the family was set up by its longtime accountant, Billy Wayne Jarvis. Jarvis apparently started the ball rolling by calling the IRS and asking them to investigate, claiming he didn’t want to be blamed for helping the family commit tax fraud.

The plot thickens when Charlie found out that Jarvis apparently also supplied company information to state Sen. Mike Moncrief, who was suing his uncle Tex (Charlie’s father) over how his grandparents’ estate was divided. In 1995 the state senator apologized for accusing his uncle of cheating him and dropped the suit.

It wasn’t until 1998 (two years after the family settled with the government) that the Moncriefs learned that Jarvis and his attorneys also split up to a $25 million reward for turning the family in.

"There is a lot going on in this book, a lot of bad dudes," Moncrief told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in an interview this week.

Although "Wildcatters" is sure to entertain, and Jarvis’ role in orchestrating the sting is certainly oily, the fact that the family paid a whopping $28 million to make the case go away leaves the impression that Charlie and his relatives were probably not as innocent as he makes them out to be.

Colorful – heck yeah. Blameless, well – you be the judge.

 

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