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By Emily Flitter OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - From 2006 to 2009, Provident Asset Management raised $485 million from 7,700 investors who were drawn to its promises of annual returns as high as 18 percent on oil and gas assets. Law firm Mick & Associates helped. Provident paid Mick to provide "due diligence" reports to help brokers decide whether to recommend the investments to their clients. Brad Updike, a Mick energy-sector specialist, reviewed each of the 23 deals, known as private placements.