New York Man Pleads Guilty to Multi-State Biodiesel Fraud Scheme
Andre Bernard, of Mount Kisco, New York, pleaded guilty today for his participation in a multi-state scheme to defraud biodiesel buyers and U.S. taxpayers by fraudulently selling biodiesel credits and fraudulently claiming tax credits, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Acting U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the Middle District of Florida.
According to his plea, Bernard conspired with Thomas Davanzo, of Estero, Florida, Robert Fedyna, of Naples, Florida, and Scott Johnson of Pasco, Washington in a scheme to defraud biodiesel credit (known as “RIN” credits) buyers and U.S. taxpayers. The conspiracy involved having Gen-X Energy Group (Gen-X), headquartered in Pasco, Washington, and its subsidiary, Southern Resources and Commodities (SRC), located in Dublin, Georgia, generate fraudulent RINs and tax credits multiple times on the same material.
Bernard and his co-conspirators operated several shell companies that claimed to purchase and sell the renewable fuel. The co-conspirators also cycled the funds through these shell companies’ bank accounts to perpetuate the fraud scheme and conceal its proceeds.
From March 2013 to March 2014, the co-conspirators generated at least 60 million RINs that were based on fuel that was either never produced or was merely re-processed at the Gen-X or SRC facilities. The co-conspirators received at least $42 million from the sale of these fraudulent RINs to third parties. In addition, Gen-X received approximately $4,360,724.50 in false tax credits for this fuel.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara C. Sweeney of the Middle District of Florida and Trial Attorney Adam Cullman of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.