Serial Fraudster Gets 12 Years for Green Energy Investment Scam
United States District Judge Stephen V. Wilson sentenced James Rivera to
12 years in prison for the operation of a green energy scheme that defrauded
dozens of investors in Maine and across the United States. Judge Wilson
also ordered Rivera to pay $1 million in restitution.
According to court documents, Rivera, through various California-based
companies, including “Apostles, Inc.” and “Almighty
Wind,” solicited investments in a purported new form of windmill
technology. Rivera falsely claimed that his companies possessed patents
for the purportedly new technology, and distributed technical materials
to investors that were designed to make the “wind turbines”
appear more viable than they were in reality.
Rivera lured investors through “religious rhetoric and imagery”
and lies, according to a
California press release. Officials say Rivera represented himself as a devoutly religious person
in order to inspire trust, and then blatantly lied to investors about
every aspect of the investment. In particular, Rivera falsely claimed
that the Nigerian government had committed to purchasing over $1 billion
of the windmills, and that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was prepared
to provide millions of dollars in financing for the business. A jury convicted
Rivera of mail fraud and 10 counts of wire fraud in June 2010.
“We are gratified that Mr. Rivera received the maximum sentence recommended
by the prosecutor for bilking dozens of investors, including the Thompsons
and others in Maine, out of over a million dollars,” said Maine
Securities Administrator Judith M. Shaw.
“Rivera exploited investors by falsely claiming they could trust
him because he shared their religious faith. He was in reality nothing
more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Rivera was a convicted
fraudster with eight criminal convictions on his record, a fact he neglected
to tell his investors.
In a release announcing Rivera’s sentence, Maine Administrator Shaw
stressed the importance of investor due diligence. “Mr. Rivera has
been ordered to pay the victims more than $1 million in restitution, but
… The safer course for an investor is to be proactive and to check
out the investment with regulators before sending money,” said Shaw.
For tips on how to avoid investment fraud through due diligence, including
how to minimize the risk of a
Ponzi scheme by choosing the right financial advisor, visit our investor resources library.