Wootton, Miner charged with fraud on top of last year’s charges

By U.S. Department of Justice | January 24, 2018

Two owners of a Pennsylvania biodiesel company were charged in a superseding indictment Jan. 24 with conspiring to defraud the IRS and aiding and assisting in the preparation of a fraudulent fuel tax credit refund claim, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney David J. Freed for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to the superseding indictment, Ben Wootton of Pennsylvania and Race Miner of Colorado owned and operated Keystone Biofuels Inc., located in Shiremanstown, Pennsylvania, and later in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Wootton, serving as president, and Miner, serving as CEO, are alleged to have participated in a conspiracy to defraud the IRS by, among other things, fraudulently claiming tax refunds based on the biodiesel blenders credit.

According to the superseding indictment, the tax credit was available only on fuel meeting those requirements that the claimant had mixed with diesel fuel. Wootton and Miner allegedly caused Keystone to fraudulently seek tax refunds from the IRS by claiming the credit based on nonqualifying and, in at least some instances, nonexistent or nonmixed fuel. The indictment further alleges that Wootton and Miner created false books and records and supporting documents to account for the nonexistent fuel; engaged in a series of sham financial transactions to give the false books and records the appearance of legitimacy; and sought to obstruct an ongoing IRS investigation by providing false documentation to an IRS special agent.

These charges are in addition to those previously lodged against Wootton and Miner. In a May 2017 indictment, both men, along with Keystone Biofuels Inc., were charged with conspiring to make false statements to the EPA and making false statements to the EPA.

If convicted, Wootton and Miner face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy and three years in prison for aiding and assisting in the filing of a false refund claim. They also face a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Zuckerman, Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood, and U.S. Attorney Freed praised special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation and the EPA Criminal Investigation Division, who conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey MacArthur, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lastra, Trial Attorneys Mark Kotila and Kimberly Ang of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Senior Litigation Counsel Howard P. Stewart of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section, who are prosecuting the case.


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