Clinton Tod Harwell: Fake Oil Millionaire Convicted Of Felony Theft In California Court

UPDATED, FEBRUARY 14, 2012: Harwell called to say that he is trying to put his life in order now and wishes there wasn't so much negative information about him on the Internet. For the record, he disputes the account of the anonymous woman in this story and says that her claim that he kicked her under the table at P.F. Chang's is "crap" and "absolutely ludicrous." We did not have the opportunity to interview him two years ago as he was then incarcerated in a Ventura County, California jail. Clinton Tod Harwell might have run his last scam for a while. The long-time Houstonian -- well-known as a defendant in the civil and criminal courthouses here -- moved to California a while back, and that's where he came to grief.

And a search through the records reveals that Harwell is not just a convicted thief -- he is also a lying cad and according to records in he Harris County Civil Courthouse, an alleged woman-beater.

According to Ventura County assistant District Attorney Dominic Kardum, Harwell entered a guilty plea on April 23 to a charge of felony grand theft enhanced by a special allegation that he took more than $65,000. He remains in a California jail on $100,000 bond, awaiting what could be a four-year sentence.

Harwell had recently been officing in Westlake Village, near Malibu, and was doing business under the names Ranch Exploration Co. LLC and Lobo 2006 Resources LLC. Kardum recently told the Ventura County Star that Harwell tried to get people to invest in invalid oil and gas leases and said that there was one victim in Ventura County and another in Los Angeles County. Harwell is said to have met his victims through "personal introductions at social circles."

That was also how a local woman, one who doesn't want her name used, also met him about ten years ago. She says that a friend hooked the two of them up when the woman needed a ride from Denver to Aspen around Christmastime in 2000. The tipster was told that Harwell was going to be renting a Hummer at Denver Airport and riding out to Aspen with a few women he knew, and that she was welcome to join in.

The woman had just gotten a divorce and was going to Aspen to see her sister, and she was apprehensive about riding from Denver with Harwell, so she arranged to meet him here in town before the trip. It was at a Christmas Party at the company Harwell owned at the time: OPMI, which officially stood for Offshore Project Management, Inc, but that Harwell allegedly called Other People's Money, Inc.

"He was just real flamboyant and goofy and I thought, well maybe this will be okay," the woman remembers. "There will be other girls and all that."

Turns out she was the only woman traveling with him. And then when they got to Denver, he claimed to have left his wallet on the plane.

"I said 'You better go find it 'cause I'm not taking care of you. I'm not your girlfriend. You better go back on the plane and get it 'cause I don't have enough money to take care of you. You're on your own. This is just hitching a ride.'"

Harwell left and "found" his wallet. The woman says he next told them to split up -- she could go get the bags while he went to get the Hummer. "So then he comes running back and says that they won't take his debit card," the woman recalls. "He says that I'm gonna have to put it on my credit card. I was like 'I thought this was supposed to be your deal.' And he's like 'I'll pay you back, I swear,' and I started to get this horrible feeling, but then I was thinking but maybe he really is a good guy. I don't want to make him feel bad."

So they go get the car, and its, like, a Hyundai or something. "So I say, 'Tod, where's the Hummer?' not that I care, and he goes 'Oh, we've gotta go by my buddy John Elway's place. I knew John Elway had some car dealerships up there, so maybe that was true. And then we get outside of Denver and I ask about going to get the Hummer from John Elway, and he's all 'Oh, I couldn't get ahold of him.' You know, just bull."

Things got weird in Aspen. The woman says there were reports of a stolen car and shenanigans with porn star Alisha Klass, a/k/a a specialist in anal sex scenes. The woman says that things between Harwell and Klass apparently ended on a very sour note, because Harwell desperately wanted to leave town ten hours earlier than they needed to, she said.

Some time later, the woman says she asked Harwell to return the money she fronted for the rental car. Harwell arranged to meet her at PF Chang's, and the woman says she took her son, then about seven years old, with her. "I asked him where my money was and he started kicking me," she says.

The woman says she returned to Aspen about a year later. On the way home, she got talking to a thirtysomething woman on the shuttle from Aspen to Denver. "She said she had to get out of Aspen. I asked her why, and she said 'Oh my god, this guy I met on, he said he'd fly me out here to meet him, and he didn't fly me out here, I paid my own way and he didn't pay me back. So I go to the hotel and he told me he had all this money and he didn't have any. He didn't have his credit card and I had to put the hotel in my name. So now I'm sneaking out and I'm afraid he's gonna beat me up.'"

"And I said, 'Is this guy's name Tod Harwell?'" And sure enough it was.

Harwell has the impressive honor of being entered on not once but twice . (It's funny he's throwing up the Horns there; he claims on his LinkedIn page to have studied petroleum engineering at UT from 1978 to 1983, but UT's official degree verifier has no record of him ever having set foot on the 40 Acres. (That thing is all-too-accurate; it still faithfully records our own academically abysmal year there 21 years ago.)

It won't surprise many of you to learn that a guy who will lie about his degree and apparently his wealth -- he is also said to frequent as well as the millionaires dating site -- will fudge his age too. And here he is on Facebook, claiming to be 40 while looking 30.

The fact is, he doesn't look 30 and is really 51 years old. Or at least that's what his arrest reports say, and trust us, there are more.

There's one more less-than-factual statement on Clinton Tod Harwell's Facebook page, and that is his claim that he "just moved to Malibu and play[s] golf everyday."

There is no golf course at the Ventura County jail.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax