For years Ashvin Zaveri built what appeared to be a successful enterprise, relying on friendships and business links with local lawyers, accountants and other professionals who trusted his judgment in an arena that can be chockfull of scam artists: the drilling rights for oil and natural gas.

Now the 71-year-old Honeoye Falls resident stands accused of one of the largest frauds in the region's history. The FBI arrested Zaveri on Thursday on charges that he bilked investors who pumped almost $35 million into his various businesses.

Zaveri, who owns Zaveri Oil & Gas Ltd. in Brighton, pleaded not guilty Thursday before U.S. District Judge Charles Siragusa. Zaveri was released after agreeing to surrender his passport and post as bond a Pittsford home he owns in which a family member lives.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday returned a 16-count sealed indictment charging Zaveri with money-laundering, and mail and wire fraud. Siragusa unsealed the indictment at Zaveri's arraignment Thursday.

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