Ray Brewer, a 66-year-old man with ties to Porterville and a town in rural Montana, has been sentenced to over six years in prison for his involvement in a $9 million cow manure Ponzi scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office.
The backstory: From March 2014 through December 2019, Brewer stole $8,750,000 from investors by claiming to build anaerobic digesters on dairies in Fresno, Kern, Kings, and Tulare Counties, as well as other counties in California and Idaho.
- Brewer’s investors were supposed to receive 66 percent of all net profits as well as tax incentives, but he misrepresented the efforts to his investors and took them on tours of dairies where he said he was going to build the digesters. He also sent them forged lease agreements with the dairy owners, prosecutors say.
- Brewer also sent the investors altered agreements with banks that made it appear as though he had obtained millions of dollars in loans to build the digesters, and he sent them forged contracts with multinational companies that made it appear as though he had secured revenue streams. Finally, he sent the investors fake pictures of the digesters seemingly under construction.
- After receiving the investors’ money, Brewer transferred the funds to multiple other bank accounts that he opened in the names of different entities, his family members, and an alias. He used false descriptions for the transfers and did so to conceal the location, source, ownership, and control of the money before using it for personal expenditures.
- These expenditures included two plots of land that were 10 or more acres each, a 3,700-square-foot custom home, and new pickup trucks. When Brewer’s investors realized the fraud and obtained civil judgments against him, he moved to Montana and assumed a new identity.
Why it matters: Brewer was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison for running a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme where he purported to turn cow manure into green energy. He was also ordered to pay $8,750,000 in restitution to the victims of his scheme.
- Upon his arrest, Brewer initially denied the charges and told officers that they had the wrong man. He also claimed to have been in the Navy and recalled how he once saved several soldiers during a fire by blocking the flames with his body so that they could escape. However, he later admitted that these were both lies meant to gain respect or empathy with law enforcement.
- This case highlights the importance of due diligence when investing and the need to be wary of schemes that promise high returns with low risk. It also serves as a reminder that fraudsters can be very convincing and that investors should always do their own research and seek professional advice before investing their money.