February 24, 2024

A California man was sentenced on Monday to more than six years in prison for running an $8.75 million Ponzi scheme that hinged on a nonexistent factory that was supposed to create green energy out of cow manure, federal prosecutors said.

For five years, Raymond Holcomb Brewer falsely claimed to be an engineer who ran a company that built anaerobic digestion plants, which convert manure into biogas, the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of California said in a statement on Monday.

Mr. Brewer, 66, of Porterville, Calif., told his investors that he was building the plants and would generate millions of dollars in revenue by selling the biogas, the statement said. He told the investors that they would receive two-thirds of the profits, as well as tax incentives.

“None of this was true,” Phillip A. Talbert, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “Mr. Brewer did not begin construction on a single digester. He simply took his investors’ money and ran.”

Mr. Brewer, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in February, spent the money on a 3,700-square-foot custom home in California, a 12-acre plot of land in Montana and new Dodge Ram pickup trucks, federal prosecutors said.

Anaerobic digesters use bacteria to break down organic material, producing a gas that consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. New York City and other places around the world have turned to the process to deal with sewage,…

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