Another Obama Solar Company Burns Out – DC Solar Owners Plead Guilty to Largest Ponzi Scheme in Eastern California History
by Joe Hoft
Another Obama solar initiative bites the dust, but not until after stealing millions from individuals, companies and the US government.
This solar project turned into the largest Ponzi scheme in Eastern California history.
It was reported this week that the owners of a massive solar company turned ponzi scheme were indicted this week in Eastern California. According to the DOJ in Eastern California:
The owners of DC Solar, a Benicia-based company, pleaded guilty today to charges related to a billion dollar Ponzi scheme— the biggest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the Eastern District of California. The government’s investigation has resulted in the largest criminal forfeiture in the history of the District with over $120 million in assets forfeited that will go to victims, and has returned $500 million to the United States Treasury, with more to come, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
Jeff Carpoff, 49, of Martinez, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. His wife, Paulette Carpoff, 46, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and money laundering. According to court documents, between 2011 and 2018, DC Solar manufactured mobile solar generator units (MSG), solar generators that were mounted on trailers that were promoted as able to provide emergency power to cellphone towers and lighting at sporting events. A significant incentive for investors were generous federal tax credits due to the solar nature of the MSGs.
The conspirators pulled off their scheme by selling solar generators that did not exist to investors, making it appear that solar generators existed in locations that they did not, creating false financial statements, and obtaining false lease contracts, among other efforts to conceal the fraud. In reality, at least half of the approximately 17,000 solar generators claimed to have been manufactured by DC Solar did not exist.
U.S. Attorney Scott stated: “This billion dollar Ponzi scheme hurt investors and took money from the United States Treasury. This case represents not only the largest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the District, it also represents the largest criminal forfeiture in the history of the District with over $120 million in assets forfeited. All of this money will be returned to the victims. This scheme also targeted the United States Treasury, and we have returned $500 million to the Treasury to date. Agents, investigators and attorneys from various federal agencies are still working to continue to return money to victims and the United States Treasury. Today’s guilty pleas sends a strong message that fraudsters will get caught and will pay for their crimes. You can run, but you cannot hide.”
The forfeiture included seizing and auctioning 148 of the Carpoffs’ luxury and collector vehicles, including the 1978 Firebird previously owned by actor Burt Reynolds. This historical auction resulted in recouping approximately $8.233 million for victims. In addition to their collection of luxury and collector vehicles, Jeff and Paulette Carpoff used money from the scheme to pay for a minor-league professional baseball team and a NASCAR racecar sponsorship; to purchase luxury real estate in California, Nevada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and elsewhere; a subscription private jet service; a suite at a professional football stadium; and jewelry.
The Wall Street Journal reported that both Berkshire Hathaway and Progressive Insurance Company invested in the phony solar firm and they obviously lost money as well.
This is not the first solar company that originated during the Obama Administration and benefited from government subsidies in the process. Solar startup Solyndra went bankrupt and swindled the US government out of more than a half a billion dollars as well.