Man Is Sentenced in $9 Million Cow Manure Ponzi Scheme


A California man was sentenced on Monday to greater than six years in jail for working an $8.75 million Ponzi scheme that hinged on a nonexistent manufacturing facility that was alleged to create inexperienced vitality out of cow manure, federal prosecutors mentioned.

For 5 years, Raymond Holcomb Brewer falsely claimed to be an engineer who ran an organization that constructed anaerobic digestion crops, which convert manure into biogas, the US lawyer’s workplace for the Japanese District of California mentioned in an announcement on Monday.

Mr. Brewer, 66, of Porterville, Calif., informed his buyers that he was constructing the crops and would generate thousands and thousands of {dollars} in income by promoting the biogas, the assertion mentioned. He informed the buyers that they’d obtain two-thirds of the income, in addition to tax incentives.

“None of this was true,” Phillip A. Talbert, the U.S. lawyer for the Japanese District of California, wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Mr. Brewer didn’t start building on a single digester. He merely took his buyers’ cash and ran.”

Mr. Brewer, who pleaded guilty to fraud costs in February, spent the cash on a 3,700-square-foot customized house in California, a 12-acre plot of land in Montana and new Dodge Ram pickup vans, federal prosecutors mentioned.

Anaerobic digesters use micro organism to interrupt down natural materials, producing a fuel that consists primarily of methane and carbon dioxide. New York City and other places around the globe have turned to the method to take care of sewage, meals scraps and farm waste, producing a renewable natural gas.

Mr. Brewer’s elaborate scheme of pretending to run such a course of started in 2014, in line with a federal indictment. He carried out the affairs primarily via a Wyoming company with its principal place of work in California. The corporate was named CH4 Energy, after the chemical formulation for methane.

Mr. Brewer went to nice lengths to persuade his buyers that his manure challenge was actual, Mr. Talbert mentioned. Mr. Brewer took them on excursions of dairies the place he mentioned he was going to construct digesters, and he offered them with faux lease agreements that he mentioned he had reached with dairy house owners throughout California. He obtained inventory images of digesters and despatched them to buyers, typically altering the photographs so that they would seem to point out building progress. He fabricated an in depth schedule for the challenge to point out purported progress, courtroom filings confirmed.

After receiving cash from his buyers, Mr. Brewer tried to cover it by transferring it to different financial institution accounts that he had opened within the names of different enterprise entities, members of the family and an alias, Mr. Talbert mentioned.

Mr. Brewer’s scheme started breaking down in 2019, when a few of his buyers discovered that he was issuing refunds with cash he had obtained from different buyers, regardless that they’d not approved him to make use of it on this approach.

Mr. Brewer’s buyers obtained a number of civil judgments in opposition to him that yr, Mr. Talbert mentioned. Mr. Brewer responded by closing CH4 Energy, placing his remaining belongings in his spouse’s title, acquiring a fraudulent enterprise mortgage with stolen investor cash and fleeing to Montana, the place he lived half time, in line with the indictment.

Even then, he continued to have interaction in fraud, purporting to construct extra manure-processing crops via a brand new firm he created with an alias, Mr. Talbert mentioned.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Mr. Brewer in Montana in 2020 and detained him on 24 counts, together with wire fraud, cash laundering and aggravated identification theft.

However Mr. Brewer continued to lie, telling the authorities that they’d the improper man and that he was a Navy veteran hero who had as soon as saved a number of troopers from a hearth by blocking the flames along with his physique, Mr. Talbert wrote within the sentencing memorandum. Mr. Brewer has since admitted that these lies had been meant to curry favor with regulation enforcement, Mr. Talbert mentioned.

“He’s a fraudster via and thru,” Mr. Talbert wrote, “and must be punished harshly to make sure each particular and common deterrence.”

Mr. Brewer was sentenced to 6 years and 9 months in jail for the fraud scheme, and he was ordered to pay $8.75 million in restitution to the buyers who fell sufferer, Mr. Talbert mentioned.


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