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4h person pleads guilty in $1B California energy scam

Posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 By The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — An executive of a San Francisco Bay Area solar energy company pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in what federal prosecutors said was a massive Ponzi scheme scheme that defrauded investors of $1 billion.

Ryan Guidry, 43, of Pleasant Hill entered pleas involving the scam and money laundering. He could face up to 15 years in federal prison.

Guidry was vice president of operations for DC Solar, based in Benicia, northeast of San Francisco. The now-defunct company made solar generators mounted on trailers and marketed them as able to provide emergency power for cellphone companies or to provide lighting at sporting and other events.

However, purportedly to improve tax benefits, the investors never actually took possession of the generators, authorities said. Instead, they would lease the generators back to DC Solar, which would then provide them to other companies for their use.

Authorities said the investors were supposed to be paid with the profits, but the generators never provided much income. Instead, prosecutors say early investors were paid with funds from later investors — a classic Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors alleged that the company engaged in $2.5 billion in investment transactions between 2011 and 2018, costing investors $1 billion. Among the investors was Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which lost some $340 million.

Guidry is the fourth person to plead guilty in connection with the scheme. Three other men, including a general contractor and an accountant, entered pleas last year.

The company's owners, Jeffrey and Paulette Carpoff of Martinez, have not been charged criminally but they were named in civil lawsuits.

Investigators said the couple spent lavishly, including $19 million on a private jet service; some 20 properties; some 150 expensive cars and even a $782,000 luxury box at the under-construction Las Vegas Raiders stadium.

Many of their assets have been seized or liquidated. The couple authorized the government to sell more than $75 million of their real estate and other assets. Dozens of cars were auctioned off last year for millions of dollars, including including a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am once owned by Burt Reynolds that is a replica of the car he drove in the movie “Smokey and the Bandit."

The auction proceeds will go back to the owners if they are never convicted, but if they are and forfeit their belongings, the proceeds will go to the victims.

Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyCurrent PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)$193.84+1.5%N/A5.83N/AN/A

10 Dividend Aristocrat Stocks to Buy Now

The stock market is having its worst week since the financial crisis. For some investors, a flight to safety has them getting out of the market. But other investors are taking a flight to quality. And when it comes to quality in equities, these are the moments when dividend stocks shine.

Already JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) are projecting that the coronavirus may wipe out corporate earnings growth for 2020. If investors can’t count on their equities to provide capital gains, they look to dividends to boost their total return.

But like any investment, not all dividend stocks are alike. Some of the best dividend stocks are the dividend aristocrats. By definition, for a company to become a dividend aristocrat, they must have at least 25 consecutive years of dividend growth (not just issued a dividend). These companies have a proven track record of weathering market turbulence and delivering solid performance. And, right now, there are only 64 of these companies. In this presentation, we’ll give you 10 dividend aristocrat stocks you can invest in right now.

View the "10 Dividend Aristocrat Stocks to Buy Now".

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