The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced that it has obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of a South Florida man who has been charged with fraudulently offering investments in oil drilling projects in an article posted on the SEC’s website.

The SEC’s complaint, unsealed in federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla., alleges that Joseph Hilton made numerous misrepresentations to investors while selling limited partnership units in two oil drilling projects earlier this year through his firm Pacific Northwestern Energy LLC. Hilton falsely told potential investors that Pacific acquired its wells from Exxon Mobil Corp., and he overstated Pacific’s experience in the oil and gas industry and the historical accomplishments of its drillers. Hilton raised approximately $789,000 from investors. The SEC’s action froze the assets of Hilton, Pacific, and the two limited partnerships — Rock Castle Drilling Fund LP and Rock Castle Drilling Fund II LP. Hilton’s securities offerings were not registered with the SEC as required under the federal securities laws.

In the SEC’s complaint, there were allegations against Hilton, Pacific, and another company that was controlled by Hilton called New Horizon Publishing Inc. Through Pacific and New Horizon, Hilton sold $2.5 million worth of investments in oil drilling projects sponsored by United States Energy Corp. while deceiving investors about his identity, the anticipated returns on the investments, the amount of oil being produced by U.S. Energy’s wells, and the existence of natural gas wells.

The SEC’s complaint adds that Hilton changed his name from Joseph Yurkin late last year following a final judgment for fraud in a previous SEC enforcement action against him for securities offerings he made through another company he worked for — Homeland Communications Corp.

It was reported that the SEC is seeking disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus prejudgment interest, financial penalties, and permanent injunctions against Hilton and his entities.

If you or a family member were sold oil and gas offerings by Joseph Hilton (aka Joseph Yurkin) or any of the above companies, and experienced financial losses, contact an attorney at Soreide Law Group for a free consultation on how to recover your investment losses. To speak with an attorney, call 888-760-6552, or visit