Wayde McKelvy, the pitch man hired to raise funds for what was discovered to be a $54 million green energy Ponzi Scheme started by two Temple University graduates, was sentenced to 18 years in prison in August.
McKelvy was convicted of helping to defraud dozens of retirees of their life savings by selling them shares in Mantria Corp., a Philadelphia-based company which claimed to be on the verge of a new clean energy revolution with “biochar,” which founders claimed would turn common household waste into clean energy.
Mantria also claimed it was building a “carbon negative” housing development in Tennessee, but neither project ever proceeded to construction.
Mantria’s fraudulent operations eventually caught the attention of the Securities Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
“McKelvy is nothing more than a twenty-first century snake oil salesman, with all of the trappings to make him appear to be a legitimate businessman,” said Jennifer Arbittier Williams, Acting U.S. Attorney for Eastern Pennsylvania, after McKelvy’s conviction. “The defendant is clearly a danger to the investing public and deserves to be in prison for a very long time, as the government demonstrated at trial.”
Panels ‘Catch on Fire’
It is good in this instance these crooks were caught, but it remains a fact that people don’t realize almost all of so-called green energy development projects are the equivalent of Ponzi schemes, since they are all propped up with government dollars, says Jon Caldara, president of The Independence Institute.
“Without the incredible mandates, regulations, and cash pumped in from all levels of government, most green energy would simply not exist,” Caldara said. “And if that happened, these guys wouldn’t be able to pull off their Ponzi schemes.
“Let’s remember that when Obama was giving out all that stimulus money, Abound Solar got $400 million federal government backed loans to build solar panels,” said Caldera. “Two years after getting the money Abound declared bankruptcy and our research, done by Todd Shepherd, found out that their proprietary panels never worked, with one of the engineers admitting the solar panels would spontaneously combust if placed in direct sunlight for too long: ‘These are great solar panels so long as you keep them out of the sun, because they quite literally would catch on fire,’ the engineer told Shepherd.”
Covering for Green Energy
The cost of this and other green energy Ponzi schemes are all too often hushed up and swept under the carpet in order to prevent anything from painting green energy programs in a bad light, says Caldara.
“We should be irate that a crook like this is stealing $54 million from investors,” said Caldera. “But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to green energy funny business encouraged and supported by government which steals a little bit from all of us rather than a few people being ripped off of a lot of their savings.
“I am glad this one trio of crooks got caught, but the billions upon billions of dollars that have been stolen from American taxpayers and ratepayers is the real crime,” Caldera said.
Kenneth Artz (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Dallas, Texas.