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CODY, Wyo. — Judge Alan B. Johnson denied a motion by a defendant seeking to be tried separately from two co-defendants in the ProDril securities trial, in a ruling filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.

A federal grand jury indictment on Sept. 22 alleged that Harry "Hal" Curlett, William D. "Dan" Elsom, David A. Nall and Justin C. Nall induced at least 400 people in Wyoming and Texas to buy shares of ProDril stock worth $6.4 million without registering the shares with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Curlett pleaded guilty in February to a single count of conspiracy to sell unregistered securities and is expected to cooperate in the prosecution of the remaining three defendants, who have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Judge Johnson denied a motion by Justin C. Nall to be tried separately from David A. Nall and Elsom. Johnson ruled that Nall's arguments to sever his trial from his two co-defendants did not meet the necessary legal requirements.

"Severance is a matter of discretion, not of right, and Mr. Nall bears a heavy burden of demonstrating prejudice to his case," wrote Johnson. "Vague and speculative arguments will not win a severance," he later concluded.

Nall had argued that he would suffer unfair prejudice by being tried with the other defendants, claiming they bore a higher degree of alleged culpability.

Nall would suffer a "spillover effect" from "overwhelming" and "confusing" evidence that applied more to his co-defendants than to him, he argued.

Intending to present an "antagonistic defense," in which he would engage in "finger-pointing" at Curlett and his co-defendants, Nall argued that a separate trial was warranted.

Johnson noted that Nall plans to mount a defense based in part on "never knowingly becoming a party" to the alleged pre-existing conspiracy to sell unregistered securities.

"Mr. Nall's antagonistic defenses argument fails to hold water," wrote Johnson.

The trial is scheduled to begin July 31 in Cheyenne.

Contact Ruffin Prevost at rprevost@billingsgazette.com or (307) 527-7250.

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