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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Two Arkansas Men Sentenced to Over 23 Years Combined in Federal Prison For Fraud and Money Laundering in Connection with Proposed Elm Springs, Arkansas Wind Farm

FAYETTEVILLE – Two Arkansas men were sentenced today to federal prison for Wire Fraud, Aiding and Abetting Wire Fraud, Money Laundering and Aiding and Abetting Money Laundering in connection with the development of a wind turbine that was never operational and a proposed wind farm project in Elm Springs, Arkansas, that was never constructed. The Honorable Judge Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearings in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.

Jody Douglas Davis, 47, of Searcy, Arkansas, was sentenced to 180 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,138,845.28 in restitution and Phillip Vincent Ridings, 64, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, was sentenced to 97 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $1,138,845.28 in restitution.

“This case represents some of the most important work that we do,” said United States Attorney Clay Fowlkes.  “These defendants developed a scheme for the purposed of stealing large sums of money from innocent investors.  The defendants in this case used lies and misrepresentations to trick investors into paying them large amounts of money that they converted for their own, personal use.  We will continue to work with our Federal Law Enforcement partners at the FBI and the IRS to investigate and prosecute cases like this.  We will also continue to work tirelessly to protect others from similar schemes to defraud.” 

"Mr. Davis and Mr. Ridings callously defrauded members of our community through a fictional investment opportunity," said FBI Little Rock Special Agent in Charge James A. Dawson. "Even after being federally indicted, these men continued to advance their criminal scheme through blatant falsehoods and deceit. Today's sentencings send a clear message to other fraudsters: preying upon our Arkansas communities will not stand."

“Davis and Ridings stole money from investors and used it for their personal use with no intention of building the wind farm project.,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher J. Altemus Jr., IRS-CI Dallas Field Office. “This sentencing should detour criminals from committing similar crimes.”

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Davis, and Ridings, formed a limited liability company in Texas in 2014 called Dragonfly Industries International, LLC (“Dragonfly”) and Arkansas Wind Power (“AWP”), an Arkansas limited liability company located in Springdale, Arkansas, to develop what they told investors was a revolutionary wind turbine design that was to be installed on a 311-acre wind farm proposed for construction in Elm Springs, Arkansas.  

According to the superseding indictment, Davis and Ridings conspired with Cody Fell of Springdale, Arkansas, and others, beginning as early as June 2014 and continuing through and including March 2018, to obtain money from investors who were told that the investors’ money would be used to build a prototype of the wind turbine and develop wind farms in Elm Springs, Arkansas, in Iowa, and other states.  The evidence presented at trial showed that Davis and Ridings used most of the $700,000 they obtained from investors for Davis’ and Ridings’ personal use.  Specifically, evidence at trial revealed that investors were told that Dragonfly’s wind turbine could produce more energy than the traditional three-blade wind turbines commonly used on existing wind farms;  that nationally recognized engineering firms and a University of Memphis mechanical engineering professor had “validated” the Dragonfly wind turbine’s design; that the Department of Defense has expressed strong interest in acquiring Dragonfly’s wind turbines for use in combat zones; that a prototype of the wind turbine was nearing completion; that leaders of underdeveloped countries were ready to buy Dragonfly’s wind turbines; and that a $10 million grant from the Department of Energy was soon to be awarded to Dragonfly, when in truth and fact, none of these representations were true.

A federal jury convicted Davis and Ridings on September 3, 2021.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kyra Jenner and Kenneth Elser prosecuted the case.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated March 8, 2022