Feds Charge Trio With Running $54 Million ‘Green Energy’ Scheme
PHILADELPHIA — Three people were charged Thursday with running a $54 million Ponzi scheme built on promises of a green energy technology that would turn trash into fuel and “carbon-negative” housing developments, neither of which were ever fully developed, federal prosecutors said.
Troy Wragg, 34, of Georgia; Amanda Knorr, 32, of Pennsylvania; and Wayde McKelvy, 52, of Colorado were charged with wire and securities fraud and conspiracy. It wasn’t immediately clear if they had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.
Prosecutors said the trio lied to investors that their “biochar” technology and “carbon-negative” housing in Tennessee made millions, but they had almost no earnings and used the money to repay earlier investors and for themselves.
The scam allegedly ran from 2005 until 2009, even after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit against Wragg and Knorr’s Mantria Corp. They were ordered in 2012 to pay $37 million each. ”
The scheme alleged in this indictment offered investors the best of both worlds — investing in sustainable and clean energy products while also making a profit,” U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said in a news release. “Unfortunately for the investors, it was all a hoax and they lost precious savings. These defendants preyed on the emotions of their victims and sold them a scam.”
The investors got back about $6 million in June as part of a class-action lawsuit against former Mantria employees, according to attorney Patrick Howard. Wragg and Knorr were not part of that suit.