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Press Release

Saranac Lake, NY Fraud Scheme Nets Man 144 Month Prison Term

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York
$8 Million scam involved purported alternative energy technology

ALBANY, NY –A Ventura, California man has been sentenced to 144 months in federal prison after admitting his participation in an $8 million investment scheme luring investors with false promises relating to the development of an alternative energy technology, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York. This case, based out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, was resolved in the Central District of California as a result of a change in venue.

William A. Stehl, 70, received the following sentences from Senior United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr. in Federal Court in Los Angeles on January 21:

144 months for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud;
60 months for lying to federal agents;
60 months each for evading federal income taxes in 2003 and 2004; and
36 months for subscribing to a false federal income tax return in 2003.

All sentences were ordered to run concurrently. Stehl was also ordered to pay $8,118,037.18 restitution to more than 300 victims of the fraud, and to serve a term of supervised release for 3 years upon his release from prison.

Stehl and a co-defendant, Richard M. Rossignol, 64, of Los Angeles, California, were arrested in Oxnard, California four years ago in connection with an indictment filed in the Northern District of New York. Both men were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Additionally, Stehl was charged with several tax charges and lying to federal agents.

The conspiracy count alleged that from 2001, up to the time of the indictment in March 2010, Stehl, Rossignol, and others induced victims to invest money in companies that were purportedly developing or utilizing an alternative energy source Stehl claimed he had developed. Investors were told that one of Stehl’s applications related to the processing of precious metals, allegedly contained in a slag pile in Silver City, New Mexico.

Stehl and Rossignol were charged with fraudulently obtaining money from investors by making false representations about the status of the process, claiming that contracts and licensing agreements had either been signed, or were about to be signed, that would result in significant financial returns for the investors. Stehl, Rossignol, and others obtained more than $8 million from more than 300 victims, and attempted to obtain at least an additional $50 million. None of the investors received the returns promised by Stehl and Rossignol. Most of the money obtained was used for personal expenditures.

Stehl was living near Saranac Lake, New York, when the scheme started, and moved to Southern California in late 2005. Fraud victims lived all across the United States.

Although the indictment was originally filed in Federal Court in Binghamton, New York, in October 2012, the case was transferred to the Central District of California to accommodate Stehl, who received injuries in an explosion that occurred in a building in Sylmar, California, on August 9, 2011.

Judge Hatter ordered Stehl to surrender himself at the facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons on March 20, 2015.

Trial and Sentencing of Co-Defendant Richard Rossignol

Rossignol’s case went to trial in Los Angeles on January 14, 2014. On February 28, the jury convicted Rossignol of the sole count he faced, conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. On July 28, the Court sentenced Rossignol to 20 years – the maximum statutory sentence – and immediately remanded him into custody. The Court also ordered Rossignol to pay more than $8.1 million in restitution to the fraud victims, describing the fraud as being among the most egregious it had seen in 20 years.

The investigation in this case was conducted by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office, and the Albany, New York, Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin P. Dooley of the Binghamton branch office in the Northern District of New York. Additional inquiries can be directed to Marilyn Morey or Assistant United States Attorney Elizabeth Coombe at 518-431-0247.

Updated February 3, 2015