Owner Of Former Danville Business Charged With Defrauding U.S. Energy Grant
Springfield, Ill. – A federal grand jury today returned an indictment charging Joseph Samuel Kozicki, owner of AA Solar, Inc., in Danville, Ill., with grant fraud. Kozicki, 78, of Choctaw, Okla., will be issued a summons to appear in federal court in Urbana for arraignment on a date to be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.
According to the indictment, Kozicki, chief executive officer of AA Solar, Inc., in Danville, applied for and received a U.S. Department of Energy grant in March 2010, in the amount of $1,776,268. The grant program was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and was administered in Illinois by the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO.)
AA Solar applied for the grant funds, according to the indictment, to purchase and install capital equipment for a manufacturing facility at 1303 East Voorhees, in Danville, to make solar tracking systems for ground-based, roof-mounted, and mobile and street light applications. The grant also required a cash match of $1,985,000 from AA Solar.
The indictment alleges that AA Solar submitted false documentation to DCEO; used some of the grant money for other purposes, including for Kozicki’s personal benefit; and attempted to avoid detection of his scheme by law enforcement authorities. Further, Kozicki failed to provide the required cash match. Despite more than $1.5 million in grant money provided to AA Solar, the indictment alleges AA Solar failed to establish a production line to produce solar tracking systems and sold very few solar tracking systems. As a result of the alleged scheme, Kozicki fraudulently attempted to obtain more than $640,000 from the grant and did obtain more than $380,000 from the grant.
As part of the alleged scheme, certain invoices submitted to DCEO were valid; however, when AA Solar received the grant money, it failed to pay the vendors. At other times, the same invoice was submitted to DCEO on multiple occasions. Kozicki also allegedly obtained vendor quotes without incurring the actual expense, but fraudulently represented to DCEO that AA Solar had incurred the expense. Further, Kozicki allegedly caused the creation of false invoices he submitted to DCEO. For example, a $50,000 loan for AA Solar from TSURT, an investment company in the Chicago area, was represented to DCEO as approximately $30,000 of engineering consulting by TSURT for AA Solar.TSURT is not an engineering or consulting firm and did not provide consulting service to AA Solar.
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 is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugene L. Miller.
If convicted, the offense of major fraud against the United States carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.