PRESIDENT OF TORCO RACING FUELS, INC. PLEADS GUILTY TO
$100,000,000 FRAUD AGAINST UNITED STATES TREASURY
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – Evan Ward Knoll, the founder, owner and former president of Torco Racing Fuels, Knoll Gas Motor Sports and General Sales and Service, entered guilty pleas to nine felony charges in a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Jonker. Knoll was indicted on the federal charges in August, 2011. Knoll admitted in his guilty plea to an “excise tax” refund scheme to defraud the U.S. Treasury and local banks of $100,000,000.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles affirmed his office’s commitment to protect the integrity of the U.S. Treasury and to vigorously pursue tax cheats. “It is shocking how much federal tax money was stolen by this defendant. Evan Knoll lied to banks, accountants, business partners, his employees, the community he lived in and to the Internal Revenue Service for many years,” said U.S. Attorney Miles.
Knoll fraudulently exploited a refund program applicable to the federal “excise tax” of 18.3 cents per gallon on all automotive gasoline sold in the United States. That excise tax primarily funds highway construction. But where the gasoline is used for an “off road” purpose, such as drag-racing, the “off road” user who paid the tax can apply for a federal tax refund. Knoll filed false IRS forms over many years in which he falsely claimed to have purchased massive quantities of racing fuel, all of which resulted in refund payments of over $80,000,000. In addition, Knoll also used his refund scheme to commit bank fraud: he obtained a series of bank loans primarily based on his fraudulently obtained refund checks. When the IRS stopped the scheme, Knoll was unable to make the payments on his bank loans. The banks suffered losses of over $10,000,000.
Knoll pled guilty to eight charges of making false claims against the United States and to one count of bank fraud. Defendant Knoll is facing a total of up to 70 years’ incarceration on the combined charges (five years imprisonment for each count of making a false claim and 30 years’ imprisonment for bank fraud). Sentencing has been scheduled for November 20, 2012.
The IRS-Criminal Investigation uncovered the scheme and, with the assistance of the U.S. Secret Service, investigated it. “Mr. Knoll’s perceived success in the racing industry was based on the money he was stealing from the American people. Mr. Knoll now faces severe consequences for his actions,” said Erick Martinez, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles extended his thanks to the IRS-Criminal Investigation and to
the U.S. Secret Service who investigated this matter. U.S. Attorney Miles recognized the hard
work and many hours spent on this case by Special Agents Stephen Corcoran, Michael Greshak
and Kimberly Vander Wulp, along with their supervisors and support staff..