The owners of an Indiana biofuel producer pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and false statements for participating in a scheme that generated more than $60 million in fraudulent tax credits and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renewable fuel credits at Triton Energy LLC, a company that purported to produce and sell biofuels for use as transportation fuel.
Fred Witmer, 46, and Gary Jury, 58, pleaded guilty before U.S. district magistrate Judge Susan Collins of the Northern District of Indiana. According to their pleas, Witmer and Jury were co-owners of Triton Energy LLC and Gen2 Renewable Diesel LLC, both located in Waterloo, Ind.
Witmer admitted to participating in a scheme with other co-conspirators to fraudulently claim tax credits and renewable identification number credits on non-qualifying renewable fuel. Although the credits required that the fuel be used domestically for transportation, Witmer admitted to selling it for uses that included the production of fire starter logs and asphalt and also for power generation. Jury admitted to participating in a conspiracy to fraudulently claim tax credits and to providing false statements to EPA.
As part of their pleas, Witmer agreed to serve a sentence of 57 months’ incarceration, and Jury agreed to serve a sentence of 30 months’ incarceration. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
“Witmer, Jury and their co-conspirators defrauded a program Congress had enacted to incentivize the production of biofuels and to help modernize our nation’s energy economy,” assistant attorney general John Cruden said. “These serious crimes undermine these important public policies, and this case demonstrates they will not go unpunished. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those seeking to manipulate these programs for personal gain.”
Deputy chief Don Fort for the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) said, “When individuals, such as Mr. Witmer, Mr. Jury and their co-conspirators, use fraud and deceitful measures to take advantage of federal tax credits and incentives for personal gain, the harm is felt by all American taxpayers and our economy. IRS-CI will continue to vigorously pursue individuals who attempt to undermine our tax system.”
The U.S. Department of Justice said wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison and making false statements to EPA is punishable by up to two years in prison.