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Australian pleads guilty in federal biodiesel case

An Australian man pleaded guilty to five felonies in federal court in Las Vegas on Tuesday in a biodiesel fuel scheme that earned more than $41 million, according to the Department of Justice.

Nathan Stoliar was arrested after an investigation was conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI, Secret Service, IRS and Department of Homeland Security.

In January, two men were charged in a 57-count indictment that included conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to launder money and making false statements under the Clean Air Act, according to the Department of Justice.

Stoliar told the court that starting in 2009, he and co-defendant James Jariv operated a company that advertised the production of biodiesel from “feedstocks” such as animal fat and vegetable oil. This allowed them to earn money under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which offers monetary incentives for renewable fuels. The men reported biodiesel sales from that company that were untrue, the justice department said.

Among other accusations, the indictment said the businessmen bought more than 23 million gallons of non-certified biodiesel and claimed it was one kind when it was actually another. This allowed them to sell it for up to $2.30 more per gallon.

In all, their crimes earned more than $41 million, including $7 million that Stoliar earned personally, according to the DOJ.

“These types of schemes are complex and require an enormous expenditure of resources to investigate and prosecute,” said Dan Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada. “Because of the tremendous work of the investigators and prosecutors on this case, we were also able to seize and forfeit from the defendant millions of dollars from bank accounts, as well as real property in Nevada and California, jewelry and other assets.”

In February, Stoliar travelled from Poland to the United States to surrender for arrest after being charged.

As part of Stoliar’s plea, he will forfeit $4 million and will pay another million in restitution. Additionally, he will face another $2 million in fines for the charges.

Altogether, the justice department said, he faces a maximum of 67 years in prison.

Stoliar is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 30 in Las Vegas. The case is being prosecuted by multiple departments, including the Nevada and Texas U.S. Attorney’s offices and the Environmental Crimes section of the Justice Department.

Contact reporter Annalise Little at alittle@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0391. Find her on Twitter: @AnnaliseLittle_.

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