Colorado Power Company Executive Sentenced to Prison, Fined, Ordered to Pay Restitution for Defrauding the Department of Energy
PITTSBURGH, PA - A Colorado power company executive has been sentenced in federal court to 18 months’ imprisonment, three years supervised release, a $50,000 fine and $2 million dollars in restitution on his conviction of filing a false claim against the United States Department of Energy, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
Chief United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti imposed sentence yesterday on Michael J. Ruffatto, 72, of Englewood, CO.
In connection with the sentencing, the court was advised that on December 8, 2009, the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, awarded a multi-million dollar cooperative agreement to North American Power Group Ltd. (NAPG), a corporation headquartered in Denver, Colorado, that is owned and controlled by Ruffatto, an attorney and graduate of Stanford University.
The purpose of the agreement was to study the carbon sequestration potential of an 880-acre site in Campbell County, Wyoming. The agreement required NAPG to conduct seismic studies and to drill wells necessary for the studies. Instead of performing the work required under the cooperative agreement, Ruffatto fraudulently transferred millions of dollars of award monies into his personal bank account and used the award monies to fund an extravagant lifestyle. Ruffatto secretly filtered millions of dollars of award monies through Ruffatto’s wholly owned subsidiary, North American Land and Livestock, LLC, while falsely representing to the Department of Energy that the subsidiary was doing work on the project.
At Ruffatto’ s direction, NAPG submitted twelve invoices to the Department of Energy that were false and fraudulent, resulting in the wrongful payment of over $5,700,000 in award monies as a result of the fraud. As part of the terms of the plea agreement, Ruffatto accepted responsibility for all twelve false claims filed with the Department of Energy and agreed to make full restitution of over 2 million dollars currently owed as restitution to the Department of Energy. Ruffatto has already paid $3.7 million to the government toward his restitution.
Assistant United States Attorney Mary McKeen Houghton prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
United States Attorney Brady commended the United States Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, for the investigation leading to the conviction in this case.