Pennsylvania Man Pleads Guilty to Biodiesel Tax Conspiracy

A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to one count of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, EPA Criminal Investigation Division Director Jessica Taylor, and U.S. Attorney David J. Freed for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to documents and information provided to the court, David Tielle served as Director Business Development at Keystone Biofuels Inc. (Keystone), located in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, and later in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Keystone purported to be a producer and seller of biodiesel, a type of renewable fuel. Between 2009 and 2012, Tielle participated in a conspiracy to fraudulently claim tax refunds based on the Biodiesel Mixture Tax Credit – a federal excise tax credit for persons or businesses who mix biodiesel with petroleum and use or sell the mixture as a fuel.

“Fraud committed against the United States Government, making all of us victims, is always disappointing,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Freed.  “It is particularly so when the fraud is connected to a program with the laudable aim of encouraging renewable fuel production.  The defendant in this case nefariously turned a program meant to benefit our community into a scheme to enrich himself and his partners, at our expense.  I commend the tireless work of all of our partners in this case, especially the investigators with IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation.”

“A strong enforcement program is essential to maintaining the integrity of the renewable fuel program,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn.  “Yesterday’s guilty plea should send a clear message that EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to vigorously pursuing these criminal cases.”

As part of the conspiracy, Tielle caused inflated fuel amounts to be reported to the IRS in order to fraudulently claim tax refunds on fuel Keystone was not producing. To account for the inflated fuel amounts, Tielle created false books and records and engaged in a series of sham financial transactions intended to mirror the false books and records. Tielle also caused Keystone to fraudulently claim tax refunds on fuel that did not meet the quality standards needed to qualify for the Biodiesel Mixture Tax Credit and on fuel Keystone had not mixed with petroleum. The total loss resulting from Tielle’s conduct is approximately $4,149,983.41.

Tielle faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison, as well as a period of supervised release, restitution, and monetary penalties.

The case was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division.  The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey MacArthur, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lastra, Trial Attorneys Mark Kotila and Kimberly Ang of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Senior Litigation Counsel Howard P. Stewart of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division.

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Author: October 4, 2018

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