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DC Solar owner sentenced to 30 years in $1 billion Ponzi scheme

Christian Fernsby |
An owner of a California solar company DC Solar was sentenced to 30 years in prison for orchestrating a $1 billion Ponzi scheme.

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Jeff Carpoff received the maximum sentence on Tuesday after he and his wife, Paulette Carpoff pleaded guilty to a scheme that involved selling investors mobile solar generators, at least half of which didn’t exist, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California. Ms. Carpoff will be sentenced next week.

From 2011 to 2018, the company claimed, it manufactured 17,000 generators, which are portable power systems, according to prosecutors and a criminal complaint filed in 2020 by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, DC Solar, in Benicia, Calif., is now defunct.

DC Solar lured investors by falsifying financial statements and lying about the potential revenue from leasing the machines, also known as M.S.G.s, for which they could receive tax credits, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement on Tuesday. The money that the investors received did not come from lease revenue, but rather from payments by new investors, prosecutors said.

“As DC Solar lost vast sums of money with this fraudulent model, Carpoff and other conspirators stopped building the M.S.G.s altogether, selling thousands of M.S.G.s that did not even exist,” prosecutors said. Seventeen investors lost money in the scheme, according to the S.E.C.’s complaint.

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