Owners of Biofuel Company Indicted on Conspiracy and False Statement Charges
A Pennsylvania biofuel producer and two of its officers have been indicted on conspiracy and false statements charges for participating in a scheme that generated over $10 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewable fuels credits (RIN credits) at Keystone Biofuels, Inc., a company that purported to produce and sell biodiesel for use as transportation fuel.
Ben Wootton, 52, of Enola, Pennsylvania; Race Miner, 48, of Buena Vista, Colorado; and Keystone Biofuels, Inc. were indicted by a grand jury in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania yesterday, announced U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn for the Philadelphia Office of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Steven L. McQueen of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office.
According to the indictment, Wootton and Miner were co-owners of Keystone Biofuels, Inc. located in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania and later in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Wootton, serving as President of Keystone Biofuels and Miner, serving as Chief Executive Officer, are alleged to have participated in a scheme with other coconspirators to fraudulently claim RIN credits on non-qualifying renewable fuel. Although the credits required that the fuel pass standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the fuel produced by Keystone did not meet this standard, the grand jury alleges, and was placed into commerce despite being “off-spec.” The conspirators also allegedly generated fraudulent documentation and manipulated samples to be sent to laboratories for testing as part of their scheme. Keystone, Wootton and Miner also allegedly made false entries into an EPA tracking system in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The investigation was conducted by the EPA and FBI. Senior Litigation Counsel Howard P. Stewart for the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Section, Trial Attorney Adam Cullman, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey W. MacArthur of the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting this case.
Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statues and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The crime of conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison. The crime of False Statements is punishable by up to five years in prison. A fine of up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation may also be imposed.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense, among other factors.