BOSTON – An Acton man was convicted by a federal jury yesterday in connection with his role in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Treasury Department of more than $50 million in tax-free energy grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Christopher N. Condron, 49, was convicted following a 13-day jury trial of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims and three counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Feb. 4, 2022.
In August 2017, Condron was indicted along with his partner, Jessica Metivier, for conspiring to submit fraudulent applications to the Treasury Department for energy grants available as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Recovery Act provided tax-free grants to individuals and businesses who put certain “specified energy property”—such as wind farms and gasification systems that convert trash into electricity—into service in a trade or business.
From May 2009 to June 2013, Condron and Metivier submitted fraudulent grant applications to the Treasury Department on behalf of four different Massachusetts companies, Acton Bio Energy, Concord Nurseries, Kansas Green Energy and Ocean Wave Energy. For each of the applications, Condron and Metivier falsely claimed that Metivier and her entities had acquired, placed into service, or started construction of energy property, which included three different bio-fuel gasification systems, purportedly built at a cost of approximately $88 million, and an $84 million wind farm project. Condron and Metivier sought to be reimbursed for more than $50 million based on those costs—which they never actually incurred. To support their applications, Condron and Metivier submitted fraudulent documentation to a Massachusetts-based attorney who, in turn, submitted the applications to the Treasury Department on their behalf. Evidence at trial demonstrated that Condron vastly overstated property costs in the grant applications and as a result, defrauded the government out of more than $8.7 million. Additionally, further evidence showed that Condron attempted to obtain another $17 million in energy grants.
On Feb. 26, 2021, Metivier was sentenced by Judge Talwani to one year of probation.
The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States with respect to claims provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell and Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation in Boston, made the announcement. Special assistance was provided by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neil J. Gallagher, Jr. and Elysa Q. Wan of Mendell’s Criminal Division are prosecuting the case.
USAO - Massachusetts;
Department of the Treasury OIG