Biofuels Promoter Faces Federal Fraud Charges
by Mikkel Pates (Agweek) An Iowa biofuels promoter who came to North Dakota in 2012 and sought investments in factories, including a proposed beets-to-ethanol plant Grafton, N.D., has been accused of violating federal wire fraud, mail fraud, identity theft, racketeering and money laundering statutes, on top of last year’s conviction for failing to pay federal employment taxes.
Darrell Duane Smith of Forest City, Iowa, was president and general partner of Energae, an investment company based in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Smith in 2016 pleaded guilty to federal charges related to failing to pay federal employment taxes and in December was sentenced to 13 months in prison and two years of probation. He is scheduled to be released April 29.
On March 31, 2017 — Smith’s 61st birthday — Scott R. Irwin, an FBI Special Agent, filed a criminal complaint, which outlined allegations of mail fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.
Smith was in Grafton, N.D., in March 2012, soliciting interest in biofuels investments, and saying he was planning on retrofitting the former Alchem Ltd. corn ethanol plant for making wheat and sugar beets into ethanol. The plant was never retrofitted and has since been sold for parts, but Smith acquired funding through numerous investors and transactions involving tax credits. Among other things, he falsely claimed a business relationship with a prominent North Dakota banker.
He made unauthorized transfers by using “pre-signed, blank authorization forms or forged his clients’ signatures without their authority.” READ MORE and MORE (West Central Tribune) and MORE (AgWeek) and MORE (West Central Tribune)