Former Danville Business Owner Sentenced to Prison for Defrauding U.S. Energy Grant
Springfield, Ill. – Former Danville, Ill., business owner Joseph Samuel Kozicki has been ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison for defrauding a U.S. Department of Energy grant program. Kozicki, 80, currently resides in California. He waived his personal appearance to appear by video for sentencing yesterday before U.S. District Judge Sue E. Myerscough in Springfield. Judge Myerscough ordered Kozicki to pay restitution in the amount of $383,318. Kozicki was allowed to self-report in 30 to 60 days to the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his sentence. He was ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his release from prison.
Kozicki served as chief executive officer for AA Solar, Inc., in Danville, in March 2010, when his company sought and received a U.S. Department of Energy grant in the amount of $1,776,268. The grant program was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to, among other things, provide grants to businesses to boost the economy. The program was administered in Illinois by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
According to court documents, AA Solar was one of 20 projects awarded a grant by the Department of Energy. The company sought funds to purchase and install equipment for a manufacturing facility in Danville to make solar tracking systems.
On May 26, 2015, Kozicki entered a plea of guilty to defrauding the grant program. According to court documents, Kozicki instructed AA Solar employees to provide DCEO with fraudulent invoices, quotes, or purchase orders. During the scheme, Kozicki made payments or withdrawals from AA Solar’s bank accounts for personal expenses. As a result of the scheme, Kozicki fraudulently attempted to obtain approximately $649,269 from the grant and did obtain $383,318 from the grant. DCEO denied payment of AA Solar’s final two fraudulent payment requests, approximately $265,269, after becoming aware of the scheme. Further, AA Solar sold only one or two of its solar tracking devices during its existence and did not provide the cash match of $1,985,000 required by the terms of the grant.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The case was prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.