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By Ari Natter
July 22 — An Indiana man was found guilty this week for his role in a complex biofuels fraud scheme, the Department of Justice said July 22.
Jeffrey Wilson of Evansville, Ind., was convicted July 20 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana for securities fraud, filing false reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, falsely certifying reports to the SEC, lying to the company’s outside auditor and lying to federal investigators, according to the Justice Department.
Wilson, the chief executive officer and president of Middletown, Ind.-based Imperial Petroleum, allowed others to use his facility to pretend to manufacture biodiesel and illegally claim tax credits and sell renewable fuel credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers, the government said.
“Wilson’s conviction represents the end of the line for a group of fraudsters in Indiana, New Jersey and Oregon who bent and twisted programs designed to increase America’s energy independence to line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney Josh J. Minkler said in a statement. “Wilson, as the CEO of a publicly traded company, was obligated to tell the truth the moment he knew about fraud, instead he presented any cover up story he could to keep things going and drive up share price, while giving himself extra stock and writing himself checks from the Imperial’s coffers.”
The underlying fraud scheme involved more than $140 million in revenue and $56 million in criminal profits and involved six other people who previously pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy to commit wire fraud, tax fraud and false statements to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Justice Department said.
The conviction of Wilson, who has yet to be sentenced, comes on the heels of several similar fraud cases that have involved millions of dollars and resulted in lengthy prison sentences. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (Pub. L. No. 110-140), all oil companies that market petroleum in the U.S. are required to produce a given quantity of renewable fuel or to purchase credits.
“Identifying and eliminating fraud is key to ensuring a level playing field for biofuels companies that play by the rules,” Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Martinez of EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in Indiana said in a statement. “Yesterday’s verdict shows that the EPA will stand by its federal law enforcement partners to ensure that those who blatantly ignore the law will be held to account.”
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