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Green Diesel offices raided, Absolute Fuels CEO remains in custody

Select details of the special agent's affidavit supporting the criminal complaint that was used to arrest Absolute Fuels former CEO Jeffrey David Gunselman; Green Diesel raided
By Ron Kotrba | July 25, 2012

I feel more like a federal crime reporter lately than a biodiesel editor. The former CEO of Absolute Fuels, the second “biodiesel firm” implicated in RIN fraud, was arrested late last week and remains in federal custody. Jeffrey David Gunselman is accused of having sold more than $50 million worth of fake renewable identification number credits—without producing a drop of biodiesel that met specs or that was accepted by a single purchaser—to obligated parties such as Sunoco to satisfy their renewable volume obligations under the renewable fuel standard. He had a detention hearing Tuesday, and Associated Press reports indicate that while the judge set a bond for Gunselman, another judge, Sam Cummings, who signed the criminal complaint last week for Gunselman’s arrest, stayed the bond under the advisement of the prosecutors.

Homeland security special agent Michael Fiveash signed the affidavit in Cummings’ criminal complaint. The affidavit includes details that are almost stranger than fiction. “Gunselman did not have a facility capable of producing biodiesel fuel. Instead, his business operation consisted solely of generating false RINs on his computer and marketing them to brokers and oil companies.”

Wait, there’s more. Johnny Porras, the “biodiesel production manager” for Absolute Fuels, said Gunselman gave him a performance evaluation last summer in which Gunselman commented that Porras had not made a single drop of biodiesel that could be sold. Can you believe that? How would you feel if your boss was defrauding the federal government and oil companies, not to mention stalling the biodiesel market and decimating the small U.S. biodiesel producer, only to dog you in a performance review? Gunselman’s own performance review is coming, and he will get his just deserts.

But the new biodiesel RIN fraud developments don’t stop there. A source confirmed with me that Green Diesel LLC (and parent company Fuel Streamers), the third “biodiesel producer” implicated in the RIN fraud scandal, was raided yesterday in Houston. Green Diesel CEO Philip Rivkin was issued notice of violation (NOV) by the U.S. EPA April 30 for generating more than 60 million fraudulent RINs.

 “The CEO moved to Europe unexpectedly in late 2011 and left the U.S. operation high and dry—no money, no management team, no nothing,” says the source. “He never addressed this situation with his employees, but just seemed to move on with his life, leaving a trail of unpaid bills and lawsuits behind him.”

If Rivkin is still in Europe, let’s hope the federal government locates and extradites him back to the U.S. so he can be brought to justice.   

Biodiesel Magazine also received an unconfirmed tip that the offices of Bethlehem, Pa.-based grease collector Greenworks Holdings were raided last Wednesday.

And if that wasn’t enough biodiesel RIN news for a week, two more RIN verification programs emerged last week. Frazier Barnes & Associates, in partnership with RIN Attest and Advisory Services, formed the RINtrust program. On the same day, EM Biofuels announced it is launching the RINPlus program

 

2 Responses

  1. Roman

    2012-07-25

    1

    RIN fraud is a crime and should be prosecuted as such. When I read the API news, I do not find the numerous spills that occur daily, I do not find the gas stations that may have cheated on the meters, I do not find the accidents at the refineries reported time and again day after day. I want to know about RIN fraud, I do not want RIN fraud to define the biodiesel industry. Some in the API do want the biofuels industry defined by RIN fraud, but that is understandable, it may be part of competition. The biodiesel industry should take ownership of the problems, but define itself by its success.

  2. Ron Kotrba

    2012-07-26

    2

    Roman, when a gasoline tanker spills, or a gas station cheats on its meters, or when accidents happen at the refinery, these incidents do not cause innocent parties, the other tens of thousands of tankers, or gas stations, or refineries in the industry who have done no wrong, to nearly go out of business as the result of their actions. That, my friend, is a big difference. The biodiesel industry most certainly defines itself by its success, perhaps you haven’t heard but we have reported time and time again on the record-breaking production last year, the promising new feedstock possibilities, the long fight to get EPA to increase the biodiesel mandate for 2013 so the industry can grow its annual production volumes steadily, the increase in biodiesel fuel quality over the years, the new technologies and conversion methods such as enzymatic processing, the new biodiesel and Bioheat mandates that are going into effect, opening new markets to millions and millions of gallons of biodiesel, the new programs that are available to help prevent future RIN fraud, potential changes to EPA oversight to offer obligated parties who in good faith purchased bad RINs a fair and equitable remedy instead of penalizing them, etc. But if biodiesel producers can’t sell their RINs as a result of these few bad actors, then everything that I mention above—all of those positive things—are jeopardized. When small and medium U.S. biodiesel producers—99.9 percent of whom are good, honest, hard-working Americans trying to put bread on the table in a manner that is environmentally sustainable and brings jobs to their local economy—tell me that they can’t sell their RINs because the obligated parties, not to mention many biodiesel companies, want EPA to shore up its investigations of fraud so they don’t unknowingly buy bad RINs again, I take that as an obligation to report to them as best I can that these investigations are moving forward and the criminals are being punished for their crimes. The sooner these fraud cases are put behind us, the quicker the biodiesel industry can monetize their RINs again and get back to doing what they know best: making quality biodiesel for their communities.

  3.  

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