Prosecutors say a suspect in a $90 million biodiesel scam made threats to harm or kill people who might give evidence against him.
Joseph Furando, 49, of New Jersey and several alleged co-conspirators in central Indiana are accused of taking part in the scheme, the Star-Press of Muncie reported.
Authorities say Furando and Tracy Pattison sent biodiesel fuel that got renewable fuel credits to a Middletown facility operated by the now-bankrupt E-Biofuels LLC, which falsely claimed it made the fuel to get more credits. Federal prosecutors also said they sold the fuel as 100-percent biofuel, but that it contained some petroleum diesel.
A U.S. attorney said in 2013 that the scam allowed them to charge more than what the biofuel was worth, and that they got tax credits and other benefits that they shouldn't have received. Prosecutors say customers who bought the fuel were defrauded of more than $55 million, while the IRS lost $35 million in tax breaks and renewable energy credits.
The trial for Furando and others is scheduled next month for U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Pattison made a plea agreement and agreed to testify against Furando and others.
According to prosecutors, Furando has a "history of violence" that includes bending backward an employee's finger and threatening to stab and blackmail the president of the Middletown facility. Authorities say Pattison reached out to an assistant U.S. attorney in 2013 after Furando threatened to kill her.
Furando sent Pattison text messages that showed he was furious about her contacting the assistant U.S. attorney and he told her suicide was her only option, prosecutors say.
A message seeking comment was left with an attorney representing Furando.
Brothers Chad and Craig Ducey launched E-Biofuels in 2007. The plant was supposed to produce 10 million gallons of biodiesel per year. Lawsuits against the company indicate that it did not reach that mark.
It filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on April 4, 2012, citing $17.3 million in debts and $11.4 million in assets consisting of equipment and property.
Chad Ducey was a Fishers resident and Craig Ducey lived in Fortville, according to a bankruptcy filing. Both were named as defendants in the fraud case in 2013. They, along with co-defendants Chris Ducey and Brian Carmichael, were the primary operators of E-Biofuels, according to charging documents.