On Tuesday, Jeff Carpoff, the owner of DC Solar, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for what the Department of Justice calls, “the biggest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the Eastern District of California.” The Acting U.S. Distric Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced the news of Carpoff’s sentencing in a press release.
“Today’s sentencing recognizes the importance of holding Mr. Carpoff accountable for his role in conspiring with others to defraud investors of approximately $1 billion through the creation of a fraudulent business venture, and using the proceeds for his and his wife’s own personal gain,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey D. Pittano of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC OIG). “The FDIC OIG is committed to working with our law enforcement partners in bringing to justice those who undermine the integrity of the financial system.”
According to the release, Carpoff, 50, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Along with his wife, Paulette Carpoff, Jeff Carpoff masterminded a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
“Jeff Carpoff orchestrated the largest criminal fraud scheme in the history of the Eastern District of California,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “He claimed to be an innovator in alternative energy, but he was really just stealing money from investors and costing the American taxpayer hundreds of millions in tax credits. Today’s substantial sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense and provides just punishment. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the public and promoting respect for the law.”
The major fraud revolved around DC Solar’s Mobile Solar Generator business. As investors continued to pump money into the business to keep up with the erroneous demand that Carpoff explained there was for the generators, Carpoff and DC Solar stopped producing new generators with the flow of investors cash that was coming in. Instead, Carpoff and DC Solar began swapping and placing different vehicle identification number decals on the generators to fool investors into thinking new generators were being produced.
All the while, Carpoff was pocketing the cash and used said cash to live the high life.
“Carpoff’s egregious scheme fueled his rapacious desire for luxury and prominence with showy, public expenditures including the purchase of a sports team, high-end collector’s vehicles, international real estate and a NASCAR team,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “I thank the team of determined FBI special agents, forensic accountants and professional staff who worked tirelessly with IRS Criminal Investigation and FDIC Office of Inspector General to thoroughly investigate this complex case. Our office is committed to identifying and investigating financial fraud and encourage the public to report suspected fraud to tips.fbi.gov.”
Carpoff used cash to become a sponsor in NASCAR on various levels, including the primary sponsor of Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing NASCAR Cup Series car for 13 races during the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The company also sponsored Larson, Jamie McMurray and Ross Chastain in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition. DC Solar also sponsored race events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and were an at-track sponsor at some race tracks on the circuit.
Through their investigation, the government has found $120-million in assets from Carpoff, which will be forfeited. According to the release, the government intends to seek authorization to use these assets toward restitution for the victims of the Ponzi scheme.
In addition to Carpoff, who will be going to prison for 30 years and his wife, who faces a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison, five other defendants have also been charged with criminal offenses related to the scheme.
Joseph W. Bayliss, Ronald J. Roach, Robert A. Karmann, Ryan Guidry and Alan Hansen have all pleaded guilty to their charges.
Karmann and Guidry face up to a maximum statutory penalty of 15 years in prison, while Roach and Bayliss face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years and five years in prison.
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Great write up Toby. Really sad the investors were fooled and brought a cloud over a form of alternate energy.