A Bay Area business owner who pleaded guilty to running a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme spent the money he stole from investors on real estate in California, a NASCAR race car sponsorship, 148 luxury and collector vehicles, and so much more.
He also bought real estate in Nevada, the Caribbean, and Mexico, jewelry, a subscription private jet service, and a 1978 Firebird previously owned by the late actor Burt Reynolds.
According to a statement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jeff Carpoff, co-owner of DC Solar Solutions in Benicia, was sentenced to 30 years in prison this week for orchestrating what federal prosecutors called the biggest criminal fraud operation in the Eastern District of California’s history.
Paulette Carpoff, his wife, pled guilty to conspiracy and money laundering charges and faces up to 15 years in jail.
Five more Bay Area residents from Martinez, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, and Vacaville have now been charged with criminal charges related to the Ponzi scam.
According to federal authorities, the Carpoffs misled investors about the need for their mobile solar generators for years. Prosecutors claimed their firm manufactured generators that were placed on trailers and touted as supplying lights at sports events and emergency power to cellular towers.
According to federal authorities, the Carpoffs orchestrated a vast Ponzi scam in which they paid off old investors with the money given by new ones.
They enticed investors by offering huge federal tax credits in exchange for the solar gadgets, and then lied to them by fabricating financial documents and forging bogus leasing contracts to make it look as though demand for the devices was brisk.
The Carpoffs eventually lost so much money that they ceased producing the machines, but they continued to sell roughly 17,000 non-existent generators to investors by replacing the vehicle identifying number stickers on them.
Prosecutors claimed Carpoff was renowned for living a luxurious life as a wealthy businessman, having purchased a professional baseball team, a NASCAR racing car sponsorship, and his vehicle collection, among other things.
A special agent in charge, Mark H. Pearson, said in a statement Carpoff used the system to his benefit by lying to investors, promising huge federal tax advantages, and laundering his ill-gotten earnings.
Carpoff was ordered by the court to surrender to prison by 2 p.m. on Jan. 18.