New York Man Sentenced to 87 Months for Multi-State Biodiesel Fraud Scheme
Andre Bernard, 65, of Mount Kisco, NY was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, making false statements related to the Clean Air Act, and 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. As part of his sentence, the court also entered a money judgment in the amount of $10.5 million, the amount of proceeds of the charged criminal conduct that the defendant personally received. Two accounts already seized from the defendant worth in excess of $1.5 million will be credited against the money judgment.
Andre Bernard was found guilty on August 2, 2017.
According to court documents, Bernard and his co-conspirators operated entities that purported to purchase renewable fuel, on which credits had been claimed and therefore was ineligible for additional credits, produced by their co-conspirators at Gen-X Energy Group (Gen-X), headquartered in Pasco, Washington, and its subsidiary, Southern Resources and Commodities (SRC), located in Dublin, Georgia. They then used a series of false transactions to transform the fuel back into feedstock needed for the production of renewable fuel, and sold it back to Gen-X or SRC, allowing credits to be claimed again. This cycle was repeated multiple times.
“Today’s sentencing shows that the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who defraud the federal government and the American taxpayer through unlawful schemes,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “We applaud the work of DOJ, EPA, and our other federal law enforcement partners that sought and obtained justice in this case.”
“We will not tolerate environmental fraud in the Renewable Fuels Program, or anywhere else.” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This case highlights EPA's resolve in working with partners, nationally, to hold bad actors accountable."
“The successful prosecution of these fraudsters is a testament to our commitment to combat crime at every level,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “We will continue to support our investigative partners in dismantling such criminal schemes.”
“Fraud against the United States and its citizens will continued to be targeted by the Secret Service,” said Resident Agent in Charge Jeff Kelly with the U.S. Secret Service. “These complex investigations are only successfully accomplished with the dedication and partnership of our partner agencies and the U.S. Attorney Office in bringing accountability.”
From March 2013 to March 2014, the co-conspirators, including Bernard, generated at least 60 million credits 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 credits to third parties. In addition, Gen-X received approximately $4.3 million in false tax credits for this fuel.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, and the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation. It was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Adam Cullman of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Assistant United States Attorneys Sara C. Sweeney and Megan Kistler.