Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Acton Couple Arrested for Defrauding the Treasury Department of Over $50 Million in Tax Free Energy Grants
BOSTON – An Acton couple was arrested today and charged with defrauding the U.S. Treasury Department of more than $50 million in tax free energy grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Christopher N. Condron, 45, and Jessica Metivier, 41, were charged in an indictment unsealed today with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims and three counts of wire fraud. They were released on conditions following an initial appearance in federal court in Boston today.
The indictment alleges that Condron and Metivier conspired to submit fraudulent applications to the Treasury Department for energy grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Recovery Act provided tax-free grants to individuals and businesses who put certain “specified energy property”—such as wind farms and gasification systems that convert trash into electricity—into service in a trade or business.
From May 2009 to June 2013, Condron and Metivier allegedly submitted fraudulent grant applications to the Treasury Department on behalf of four different Massachusetts companies, Acton Bio Energy, Concord Nurseries, Kansas Green Energy and Ocean Wave Energy. According to the indictment, for each of the applications, Condron and Metivier falsely claimed that Metivier and her entities had acquired, placed into service, or started construction of energy property, which allegedly included three different bio-fuel gasification systems, purportedly built at a cost of approximately $88 million, and an $84 million wind farm project. Condron and Metivier sought to be reimbursed for more than $50 million based on those costs—which the indictment alleges they never actually incurred—and received grants totaling more than $8 million. To support their applications, Condron and Metivier submitted fraudulent documentation to a Massachusetts-based attorney who, in turn, submitted the applications to the Treasury Department on their behalf.
The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb and Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement today. The government acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Neil J. Gallagher, Jr. of Weinreb’s Economic Crimes Unit.
The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This isn’t the first time money on this scale has been lost to green fraud.
Last year a green fraud for a similar amount was exposed in Pennsylvania. The description of the alleged Acton fraud suggests that many green frauds have yet to be uncovered; it seems apparent that for way too long, nobody bothered to perform the most basic checks on whether the government grant money was being spent on building renewable energy facilities. I find it shocking that so much money was allegedly lost to such a blatant, amateurish scheme.
Makes you wonder just how many phantom green energy assets have been charged to US taxpayers, how much money has been lost to green criminals.