HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsSolar Scam Leads to the Federal Slammer

Solar Scam Leads to the Federal Slammer

Former DC Solar chief financial officer Robert A. Karmann is the latest in a group of company executives facing time in federal prison for their roles in a billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert, announced Karmann’s six-year sentence saying the certified public accountant, whose first job at DC Solar was controller, must also pay $624 million in restitution.

Co-conspirators Jailed, Fined

Company founder Jeff Carpoff was sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay $790.6 million in restitution for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, in November 2021. His wife Paulette, who last November pleaded guilty to commit an offense against the United States and money laundering, is to be sentenced on May 10, 2022.

Also last November, Joseph W. Bayliss, an electrician DC Solar hired to pose as a licensed engineer, was sentenced to 3 years in prison and ordered to pay $481.3 million in restitution for securities fraud and conspiracy. Three other DC Solar defendants have pleaded guilty and are scheduled for sentencing.

Scam Details

According to court documents, DC Solar advertised a newly constructed mobile solar generating units (MSGs) mounted on trailers that they promoted as able to provide emergency power to cellphone towers and lighting at sporting events. They then sold a few units.

The MSGs were sold to investors who were given generous federal tax credits.

But DC Solar continued selling MSGs after they stopped building them altogether, pocketing monies received and the tax credits from newer investors while paying off some earlier investors.

To cover up their deception, Carpoff provided false reports claiming that newly constructed MSGs had been inspected and tested.

Karmann and his co-conspirators allegedly carried out an accounting and lease revenue fraud using Ponzi-like circular payments. The company lied to investors about the market demand for its MSGs and its revenue from leasing to third parties.

They then covered up these lies with techniques that included filing false financial statements, false operation reports, and false written summaries of the supposed revenue from leasing MSGs to third parties.

Karmann personally oversaw cycling of fraudulently obtained transfers of funds for three years and delivered false financial information to another co-conspirator for use in tax returns and tax documents, provided false compiled financial statements to an investor representative for multiple portfolio funds, and provided other false information to investor representatives about DC Solar’s third-party “leasing” program DC Solar had over $600 million in “revenues” during Karmann’s tenure.

Karmann’s Karma

The crimes of Karmann, Carpoff, and their co-conspirators should be no surprise, says Jay Lehr, a senior policy analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition, because free money always attracts unethical business practices.

“Absolutely all of the solar farms in the U.S. are fraudulent as government subsidies pay for half of every product and only the project owners make money,” said Lehr. “What drives these programs is a strong lobby that hoodwinks the greens.”

“Why would financiers like Warren Buffett be taken in?,” Lehr said. “Because they know the money will come from government subsidies, they see these investments as making good business sense, but without subsidies, solar would be dead.”

‘Environmental Degradation and Human Atrocities’

The horrific conditions under which raw materials for wind and solar are mined and refined should be a deal breaker for supporting the construction and use of renewable power sources, including solar panels, says Ronald Stein, founder of PTS Advance.

“My Pulitzer Prize nominated book, Clean Energy Exploitations, attempts to bring transparency to the environmental degradation and human atrocities occurring in developing countries where yellow, brown, and black skinned people mine for exotic minerals and metals to support the ‘green’ movement toward electric vehicles and solar and wind electricity,” said Stein. “It’s a personal choice, but I will not buy an EV nor install solar panels on my home, as I ‘know’ where those materials came from and I will not support further worldwide environmental degradation and human rights abuses, including child and slave labor, just for the opportunity to appear to ‘go green.’”

Duggan Flanakin (dflanakin@gmail.com) writes from San Marcos, Texas.


Duggan Flanakin
Duggan Flanakin
Duggan Flanakin is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. A former Senior Fellow with both the Texas and Arkansas Public Policy Foundations, Mr. Flanakin has a Master's in Public Policy from Regent University. During the years he spent reporting on environmental regulation in Texas and nationwide, Mr. Flanakin authored definitive works on the creation of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and on environmental education in Texas.


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