Florida Man Indicted in $28 Million Solar Farm Investment Scheme
60 Investors Lost More Than $15 Million in Ponzi Scheme
Christopher B. Warren, 49, of Anthony, Florida, was arrested by FBI agents this morning after being charged in a 12-count indictment with mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering, announced U.S. Attorney Don Cochran of the Middle District of Tennessee.
According to the indictment, Warren was the founder and chief investment officer of Clean Energy Advisers, LLC (“CEA”), a company registered in Wyoming with offices in various locations, including Nashville, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida.
The indictment alleges that beginning in November 2013 and continuing through September 2017, Warren devised and operated a scheme to defraud investors by offering investment opportunities in solar farm projects purportedly owned by CEA. Warren made false misrepresentations to investors that CEA owned several solar farms and made millions of dollars selling solar energy to utility companies, knowing at the time that CEA had no earnings, no profits and had no contracts with utility companies. Warren also provided investors with a list of solar farms purportedly owned by CEA, many of which did not exist and others that were actually owned by other entities.
During the course of this scheme, the indictment alleges that Warren took several steps to conceal and disguise the scheme, including placing the seals of insurance companies on investor materials to represent that the solar farms were insured against disasters; creating bogus audit reports to be circulated to investors; and using payments from later investors to create distribution payments which falsely represented earnings from the solar projects.
Finally, the indictment alleges that Warren raised approximately $28 million from investors, misappropriated a significant portion of those funds, including using almost $7 million for the personal benefit of himself and family members, and caused investors to lose more than $15 million.
If convicted, Warren faces up to 20 years in prison on each fraud count and up to 10 years in prison for money laundering.
This case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie N. Toussaint.
An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.