A Columbus judge sentenced four Florida residents to federal prison on Thursday for bilking $23.3 million from taxpayers with a biodiesel-fuel scam.
By Kathy Lynn Gray The Columbus Dispatch
Friday August 28, 2015 3:07 AM
Similar scams, which take advantage of a government program to promote renewable fuel, have popped up around the country, Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous said.
“The government was trying to solve an environmental problem, and these people took advantage of it,” Marous said.
Judge James L. Graham sentenced the scam’s ringleader, Dean Daniels, 52, to prison for five years and three months. Daniels also pleaded guilty to one count of not having a hazardous-materials placard on a truck that was transporting a byproduct of the fake biodiesel fuel.
Daniels’ wife, Brenda Daniels, 45, was sentenced to a year and a day.
William Bradley, 58, was sentenced to four years and three months, and Richard Smith, 57, to three years and five months.
Each also was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.
Graham ordered the four, as a group, to pay $23.3 million in restitution. The Internal Revenue Service is entitled to $7.3 million in restitution, and companies that bought biodiesel credits would receive the remainder.
From 2010 through at least March 2012, the four made millions through an Environmental Protection Agency program that required refiners and importers to either produce renewable fuel or buy credits for the fuel.
The defendants produced fuel they said was renewable biodiesel and sold it to other companies, then claimed more than $7 million in tax credits from the IRS for the “biodiesel.” They also sold more than $15 million in biodiesel-fuel credits they knew were fraudulent.
Two companies, Chieftain in Logan and New Energy Fuels in Waller, Texas, produced the “ biodiesel,” which was made of low-grade feedstock. Two other companies, one in Florida and one in Texas, also were involved in the scam.
The investigation into New Energy Fuels began in 2011 after the Houston Police Department discovered that the company was illegally dumping hazardous wastes.
The IRS and other government agencies continue to investigate, and others could be charged, officials said.
So they scam $23 million, they spend 1 million in lawyers defending themselves, they'll probably pay an additional 10 mil for restitution if even that much as the gov will never get it all back..
Their friends and family will pocket the other 10 to 12 mil and they'll be out of prison in probably less than 18 months. We won't even go into the subject that they now have a lawyer who's their best friend.
For 10 million dollars? I'd be happy to spend a couple years in prison for that kind of cash..
Yet another example of how well crime pays because of a faulty legal system.
The proper punishment would have been to strip their family of all their assets until the entire restitution was paid, plus interest and penalties, and then throw them behind bars until they are too old and too fragile to have any meaningful life when they get out.
That would send a message to others..
Instead, the only message being sent is "You can make $10,000,000 or more if you're just willing to give up a couple years of your life".. Who wouldn't go for that?
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