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Biofuels fraud cheated victims of $100M, feds say

Dan Human , IBJ Staff
September 18, 2013
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Federal prosecutors announced charges Wednesday connected to a Henry County biofuel refinery as part of a massive tax and securities fraud investigation, saying the operation cheated victims out of more than $100 million.

The fraud is alleged to be the biggest instance of tax and securities fraud in state history.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation last year into E-biofuels LLC in Middletown. E-biofuels filed for bankruptcy in April 2012. Its parent company, Evansville-based Imperial Petroleum Inc., received subpoenas from the SEC and a grand jury that May, according to a regulatory filing.

Imperial had to hand over an array of documents relating to E-biofuels’ accounting, purchases and sales of biodiesel, and tax credits and other incentives received from government agencies, the filing said.

“The purpose of the subpoena is to determine whether any federal laws have been violated,” the filing said.

Charging documents released Wednesday afternoon cited 88 counts against seven people and three corporations. Charges included allegations of conspiracy, wire fraud, false tax claims, false statements under the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice, money laundering and securities fraud.

Prosecutors allege that E-biofuels actually wasn’t producing biofuel. Instead, it was purchasing fuel and selling it to customers as its own product for a profit.

E-biofuels also fraudulently collected on about $35 million in federal tax breaks reserved for biofuel producers, according to charging documents.

Brothers Chad and Craig Ducey launched E-biofuels in 2007. The plant was supposed to produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Lawsuits against the company indicate that it did not reach that mark.

Chad Ducey is a Fishers resident and Craig Ducey lives in Fortville, according to a bankruptcy filing. Both are named as defendants in the fraud case. They, along with co-defendants Chris Ducey and Brian Carmichael, were the primary operators of E-biofuels, according to charging documents.

The four men conspired with co-defendants Joseph Furando and Evelyn Katirina Pattison—two executives with a pair of related New Jersey-based companies—to purchase lower-grade fuel from third parties and then pretend that it was high-grade fuel from the E-biofuels plant.

The government alleges that the defendants sold more than 35 million gallons of the inferior fuel between July 2009 and May 2012. Unwitting customers paid an inflated price. All told, they were defrauded of more than $55 million.

Imperial bought E-biofuels in 2010 for $3.75 million in Imperial’s thinly traded stock and $15 million in debt. In a regulatory filing from April 30, 2012, Imperial said that 99.6 percent of its revenue stemmed from E-biofuels.

The government alleges that Jeffrey Wilson, the president and CEO of Imperial, knew that E-biofuels was purchasing biodiesel from third parties instead of making its own. He hid this fact from investors, sharholders and outside auditors. He also made false statements in Imperial's annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC.

Imperial’s accounting firm resigned in August 2012, citing concerns its auditors could not rely on the company’s financial reporting for E-biofuels, according to an SEC filing. The filing did not specify what the problems were.

Carmichael reportedly has offered to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. If convicted, he faces up to five years in federal prison.

The six other defendants face up to 20 years in federal prisoon on some counts, as well as significant fines. The three companies indicted Wednesday also face significant fines and other regulatory action.

Story originally published at IBJ.com.
 

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  2. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  3. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  4. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  5. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

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