Man sentenced to 20 years for biodiesel fraud

A New Jersey man has been sentenced in federal court to 20 years in prison for leading a massive scheme to fraudulently profit from federal biodiesel incentives.

The Justice Department says Joseph Furando participated in a years-long process to buy and resell biodiesel, claiming both the federal tax credit for it and the valuable identification number that fuel refiners use to certify that they complied with blending requirements.

Furando and others made more than $55 million in profits at the expense of customers and taxpayers, prosecutors said.

“Fraud in the renewable fuels program compromises our ability to fight climate change and reduce dependence on foreign oil,” Cynthia Giles, head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement division, said in a statement.

“When people approach these programs with bad faith and seek to exploit them, these purposes are blocked, American businesses are hurt and the treasury of the United States is depleted,” said John Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s environmental office. “This significant prison sentence sends the right message that such fraud will not be tolerated.”

Officials say Furando used the money to buy a Ferrari and other high-end cars, a million-dollar home, expensive artwork, a piano and other items, all of which he’ll have to forfeit. He also had a biodiesel-powered motorcycle built by the show American Chopper, which he will have to forfeit.

The sentence came late Thursday night in an Indiana court after an eight-hour hearing, according to Furando’s attorney declined to comment to the website.