Toby Miller had $14,000 and a close friendship at stake in the plan to bring wind energy to Jonestown. But he couldn’t escape the conclusion that the man behind the plan, his friend and former fellow law enforcement officer Charles Malouff, was altering records to make the project fly.
Miller raised his concerns in August 2010, and was promptly fired from Malouff’s CM Alternative Energies, where he served as general operations manager. He dashed off an email that was read aloud Thursday in Travis County District Court, where Malouff, 55, is on trial for falsifying documents to get a $1.8 million federal stimulus grant for the wind energy project.
“You aren’t the man you purport to be. … You lie, cheat and steal from your own flesh and blood. … You’re a convict,” Miller wrote to Malouff.
“You were upset,” assistant district attorney Holly Taylor said to Miller, who was wearing his Travis County sheriff’s deputy uniform.
“Yes I was,” said Miller.
“What was Charlie’s response” asked Taylor
“He sent me a text message. It said ‘Business is business,'” said Miller.
Miller took his suspicions to the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, sparking an investigation that found Malouff fraudulently obtained the federal grant by overstating the energy savings and misrepresenting his project as shovel-ready. Malouff promised 20 wind turbines that would save Jonestown at least $90,000 a year. Three turbines went into the ground but never produced energy.
Malouff’s trial began this week on a charge of securing execution of a document by deception, a first-degree felony. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Miller and Malouff met in the early 1990s and became good friends. Both had law enforcement backgrounds and they often had each other over for dinner. When Malouff started CM Alternative Energies in 2007, Miller loaned him $14,000 and became a 2 percent owner in the company, as well as the firm’s general operations manager.
Then Miller started to see red flags. He testified that Malouff requested draft copies of environmental impact reports for “proofreading,” but he believed Malouff altered the reports to help his grant application. He also knew of Malouff’s romantic relationship with Mary Jo Woodall, then a grant administrator for the Texas Comptroller’s Office, the agency that reviewed the grant applications. Prosecutors say Woodall guided Malouff in the grant process and essentially wrote the application for him, a clear conflict of interest.
Woodall, 57, is awaiting trial on the same charge of securing execution of a document by deception.
Malouff is already behind bars. He pleaded guilty in July 2012 to possession of a firearm and destructive devices, including hand grenades, by a felon, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. At that time, he was on probation for a 2007 arrest for unlawful transfer of a firearm.
His trial is expected to last two more weeks.