Owners Of Biofuel Company Indicted On Conspiracy And False Statement Charges
WASHINGTON – A Pennsylvania biofuel producer and two of its officers were indicted on May 3, 2017, on conspiracy and false statements charges for participating in a scheme that generated over $10 million in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) renewable fuels credits (RIN credits) at Keystone Biofuels, Inc., a company that purported to produce and sell biodiesel for use as transportation fuel.
Ben Wootton, age 52, of Enola, PA, Race Miner, age 48, of Buena Vista, Co., and Keystone Biofuels, Inc. were indicted by a grand jury in Harrisburg, announced Bruce D. Brandler, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Jeffrey H. Wood, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Jennifer Lynn, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the Philadelphia Office of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, and Steven L. McQueen, Acting Assistant Special Agent In Charge of the Philadelphia Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to the indictment, Wootton and Miner were co-owners of Keystone Biofuels, Inc. located in Shiremanstown, PA and later in Camp Hill, PA. Wootton, serving as President of Keystone Biofuels and Miner, serving as Chief Executive Officer, are alleged to have participated in a scheme with other coconspirators to fraudulently claim RIN credits on non-qualifying renewable fuel. Although the credits required that the fuel pass standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the fuel produced by Keystone did not meet this standard, the grand jury alleges, and was placed into commerce despite being “off-spec.” The conspirators also allegedly generated fraudulent documentation and manipulated samples to be sent to laboratories for testing as part of their scheme. Keystone, Wootton and Miner also allegedly made false entries into an EPA tracking system in violation of the Clean Air Act.
The investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section, Senior Litigation Counsel Howard P. Stewart, Trial Attorney Adam Cullman, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey W. MacArthur of the Middle District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting this case.
Indictments are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statues and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The crime of conspiracy is punishable by up to five years in prison. The crime of False Statements is punishable by up to five years in prison. A fine of up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation may also be imposed.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense, among other factors.