Feds auction Burt Reynolds Trans Am amid alleged $1B fraud scheme

Feds auction Burt Reynolds Trans Am amid alleged $1B fraud scheme
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Federal authorities have charged two employees of a Bay Area solar energy company of defrauding investors of $1 billion, according to the Associated Press.

The allegations come as authorities auction off a collection of nearly 150 cars, including a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am once owned by late actor Burt Reynolds, belonging to the owners of the company, who have not been charged. Accumulated online bidding for the collection has already topped $5.5 million, according to the AP.

The owners of the company, DC Solar, agreed to allow authorities to auction off their cars because of the costs to store them and because their value depreciates the longer they sit idle.

Profits of the auction will go to the owners – Jeffrey and Paulette Carpoff Martinez – if they are not convicted of a crime.

Employees Ronald Roach, 53, and Joseph Bayliss, 44, both pleaded guilty to the ponzi scheme. 

DC Solar made solar generators that were marketed as power sources for lighting at sports events and emergency power for businesses such as cellphone companies, according to the AP.

According to the investigation, investors were supposed to be paid by the company with profits, but since the generators never made much profits, they were often paid with money given by other investors. 

Bayliss and Roach face up to five and 10 years in prison, respectively.