LANSING, Mich. - The Canadian owner of a Michigan-based energy company has been charged with 21 felonies in connection with a $2 million generator investment scam, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced.
John Von Stach and VSP North America are each charged with one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony, and 20 counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.
Von Stach is accused of scamming multiple investors out of millions of dollars in a solar-powered generator scam through his company.
"This individual is alleged through the guise of his company to have taken advantage of Michigan residents and their hard-earned money for personal gain," Schuette said. "I want to thank my Corporate Oversight Division for their dedication to uncovering fraud and protecting Michigan residents."
An investor in Von Stach and his business filed a complaint alleging that he hadn't received the funds promised to him. Investigators found multiple others had responded to advertisements seeking investors for VSP.
VSP sold itself as a renewable energy company that specializes in manufacturing solar-powered generators. Investors were told that VSP sells generators to dealers across the United States and sells the invoices to investors at a 20 percent discount, officials said.
The dealer then paid the full amount of the invoice to the investor within 90 days, according to officials.
It is alleged that the generators sold to dealers were sold on consignment and could be returned if not sold.
Investigators said many others fell victim to the scheme, totaling more than $2 million.
Here are the charges against Von Stach:
- One count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony;
- Eight counts of false pretenses $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony;
- Two counts of false pretenses $50,000 or more but less than $100,000, a 15-year felony;
- Five counts of false pretenses $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, a 15-year felony; and
- Five counts of false pretenses $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a five-year felony.
Von Stach was arrested Friday when he entered Michigan from Canada. He and his company were arraigned Monday, and he is being held on $1.5 million bail.
Von Stach is also required to stay in Michigan and surrender his passport. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 19.
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