Founder and Former CEO of Sustainable Fuel Company Pleads Guilty to Multimillion Dollar Embezzlement and Investor Fraud Scheme
The founder and former CEO of a sustainable fuel company pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle at least $5.9 million from the company and to defraud several investors out of $15 million.
According to court documents, between 2021 and 2022, Bryan Sherbacow, 55, of Charleston, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C., defrauded the company he co-founded by transferring company funds without authorization to his personal bank account and by making unauthorized personal expenditures from a company bank account. Sherbacow attempted to conceal his actions by, among other things, emailing altered bank statements and other falsified financial records to the company’s outside accounting firm and members of the company’s board. Sherbacow used embezzled funds to pay for, among other things, a vintage Mercedes-Benz sports car, a Range Rover sport utility vehicle, payments to an art auction operator, personal tax liens, personal credit card payments, rent payments on personal residences, payment to a beach club, electronics, and a down payment on a condo.
To raise additional funds for the company, Sherbacow also sent or caused to be sent altered bank statements and other falsified financial records to prospective and current investors. For example, Sherbacow caused a false and fabricated bank statement to be sent to two investors, in which Sherbacow intentionally removed transactions showing transfers from the company bank account to his personal bank account and falsified account balance information to make it appear that the company possessed more cash on hand than it possessed, due in part to Sherbacow’s unauthorized transfer of funds. Sherbacow also caused a balance sheet containing false and misleading financial information to be sent to another investor. In at least partial reliance on the fabricated bank statement and false and misleading financial information, three investors collectively invested approximately $15 million.
Sherbacow pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 16 and faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Washington Field Office and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Charleston Resident Agency are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Kyle Crawford of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.