Indiana biofuel firm’s owners plead guilty to tax, renewable fuel fraud

Owners of a biofuel company in Waterloo, Ind., pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and false statements in a scheme that generated more than $60 million of fraudulent tax credits and renewable fuel credits, the US Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, and Environmental Protection Agency jointly announced on Oct. 12.

The federal agencies said Fred Witmer and Gary Jury, co-owners of Triton Energy LLC and Gen2 Renewable Diesel LLC, entered guilty pleas before Magistrate Judge Susan Collins of US District Court for Northern Indiana.

Witmer admitted to participating in a scheme with other co-conspirators to fraudulently claim tax credits and renewable identification numbers (RIN) under EPA’s renewable fuel credits system for nonqualifying renewable fuel. Although the credits required that the fuel be used domestically for transportation, Witmer admitted selling it for uses that included the production of fire starter logs and asphalt and also for power generation, the federal entities said.

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 a sentence of 57 months’ incarceration and Jury agreed to one of 30 months’ incarceration. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled, the agencies said.

This was the second settlement of RIN fraud charges in less than a month. On Sept. 29, DOJ and EPA jointly announced that Chemoil Corp., a San Francisco-based motor fuels supplier, agreed to retire more than $71 million of RINs and pay a $27 million fine as a proposed settlement of federal charges that it violated renewable fuel credit procedures under the federal Renewable Fuel Standards (OGJ Online, Sept. 30, 2016).

The fine was the highest in the history of EPA’s fuel programs, DOJ and EPA noted at the time.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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