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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 18, 2021

Portsmouth Man Sentenced for Solar Farm Fraud Scheme

NORFOLK, Va. – A Portsmouth man was sentenced today to 31 months in prison for defrauding an elderly victim of over $228,000 based upon false promises to develop a solar farm on her rural North Carolina property.

“This defendant cruelly tricked a vulnerable widower out of her retirement income as a result of his elaborate lies and deception,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “EDVA, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute fraud that impacts the elderly and other vulnerable members of our communities.”

According to court documents, David Pharr, 46, promised the victim—a retired teacher whose husband had recently passed away—that he would develop a solar farm on her rural property in Sampson County, North Carolina. The victim agreed to pay Pharr an initial investment amount in exchange for the right to receive a share of the profits of the project. Pharr never installed the solar farm on the victim’s property and never paid the victim any returns. Instead, from approximately March 2014 through May 2018, Pharr fraudulently induced the victim to mail, wire, and transfer him funds for purported expenses for the solar farm that he did not actually incur. The victim lost over $228,000 as a result of Pharr’s scheme.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, and Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Shean prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-cr-72.

Topic(s): 
Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
Press Office USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated March 19, 2021