Former VP sentenced to six years in prison for role in solar company ‘Ponzi scheme’

Former VP sentenced to six years in prison for role in solar company ‘Ponzi scheme’

A former Bay Area solar company executive has been sentenced to 6½ years in federal prison for his role in a billion-dollar scheme to defraud investors, the sixth person to be sentenced since the collapse of DC Solar Solutions four years ago.

Ryan Guidry, 45, of Pleasant Hill, pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy and money laundering. He was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Judge Dale Drozd of Sacramento, who also ordered him to pay $619 million to victims of the fraud, similar to restitution orders against other members of the company.

Guidry worked for DC Solar from 2011 to 2019 and became its vice president of operations in 2015. The Benicia-based company manufactured trailer-mounted solar generators that provided event lighting and emergency power for communication companies.

But federal prosecutors said DC Solar turned into a “Ponzi scheme” that used funds from its investors to pay off previous investors. Prosecutors said the company sold the generators through special funds for investors to get federal tax credits, then pretended to lease those generators to third parties to generate revenue, which it actually did not. realized only a small part. Of the 17,000 generators the company claims to have made, prosecutors say, 9,000 were non-existent.

After DC Solar filed for bankruptcy, a dozen investors reported tax credit losses totaling $1 billion, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which said it lost $340 million.

DC Solar owners Jeffrey Carpoff and his wife, Paulette Carpoff, of Martinez, pleaded guilty to similar charges. Jeffrey Carpoff was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2021 and Paulette Carpoff to 11 years and three months in 2022. Prosecutors said Jeffrey Carpoff used part of the funds to buy a minor league baseball team, 148 sports vehicles. luxury and collectibles and a NASCAR. racing car sponsorship.

The company’s former chief financial officer, Robert Karmann, was sentenced to six years in prison. Alan Hansen, who received money from DC Solar while working for one of its clients and later became an executive at the solar company, is serving an eight-year sentence. Joseph Bayliss, an employee who pleaded guilty to signing false reports on the non-existent generators, was sentenced to three years in prison. Ronald J. Roach, a Walnut Creek accountant, pleaded guilty to related charges and is expected to be sentenced in March.

Guidry’s plea deal called for a sentence of up to 15 years, but his attorney, Robert M. Wilson, said he was not a central player in the fraudulent scheme and asked Drozd for a sentence of five years.

“Ryan found himself in the midst of a colossal fraud perpetrated by Carpoff, his wife, their attorneys, accountants and other professionals,” and has been cooperating with prosecutors since 2019, Wilson said in a court filing. “It was a sophisticated fraud. Ryan is not sophisticated… He was driving a van. He is a blue collar worker… He knew that Carpoff was engaged in questionable and even illegal business practices, but he did not had no idea of ​​the nature and extent of the fraud.

The U.S. attorney’s office did not seek the maximum sentence, but said Guidry was part of the conspiracy to defraud investors.

“Guidry accepted $1 million he knew was from deceived investors to get a signature on a fake lease agreement” and committed other deceptive actions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Hales wrote in a filing this week. last. “In short, Guidry knew DC Solar was committing fraud and he was looking to profit from it.”

Bob Egelko is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @BobEgelko

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