A federal grand jury in Miami has indicted seven men on charges they swindled $1.9 million from investors by falsely claiming to have developed a revolutionary windmill turbine that could generate power at a fraction of the cost of existing technology.
The indictment was filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on July 29 but remained under seal until Monday, after two defendants surrendered to authorities. All of the defendants were declared fugitives in an Oct. 2 filing that was also unsealed on Monday.
The operation spanned several states and involved 10 companies, including internet marketers, data services, and capital funds that the defendants used for transfer of misappropriated investment proceeds, the indictment states. Much of the fraud occurred in South Florida, where the defendants operated two offices in Broward County and a third in Miami-Dade County, according to the indictment.
The grand jury found that the operation raised about $1.9 million from investors between July 2016 and March 2019 by touting a wind turbine they called PowerStack that they said was evaluated by Siemens, a multi-national technology company, as “far and away the most efficient wind turbine technology in the world.”
Promotional materials provided to investors said Siemens’ tests confirmed that the wind turbine technology “will produce electricity at a tiny fraction of the cost of any other method, renewable or fossil.” That statement, the grand jury found, was just one of numerous assertions that were “false and fraudulent.”
Of the $1.9 million raised from investors, the defendants “misappropriated” about $1.5 million “for their own use and benefit,” the indictment states.
Combined, the defendants face 44 felony charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. The indictment alleges that the defendants prepared fraudulent promotional materials to show prospective investors, failed to disclose that 50% of proceeds from stock sales would be paid to individuals involved in the scheme, and diverted proceeds of the sales to benefit themselves.
Most of the charges carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of any property purchased with proceeds derived from the alleged fraud.
The two defendants who surrendered to authorities are identified in the indictment as Broward County residents. They are Igor James Weisbrot, president and treasurer of Bacchus Capital Group; and Wayne Scott Simpson; manager and registered agent of Realty Data Services.
The other defendants are:
John Alexander Van Arem; Ontario, Canada; owner of Beacon Digital Solutions, a Nevada corporation
Anthony Graeme Goldstein; Ontario, Canada; president and director of Thunderbird Power Corp.
Lynn Richard Hinds; Queens Creek, Arizona; CEO of Thunderbird Power Corp.
Donovon T. Stiltner; Miami-Dade County resident; investor relations manager of Thunderbird and CEO of Miami-based ISLG Marketing Inc.
Stanley Herbert Johnson; California resident
Simpson, Johnson and Weisbrot each faced previous allegations of violating rules governing sales of securities. Weisbrot lost his registration with the National Association of Securities Dealers in 1993 after failing to pay a fine for improperly inflating prices of stock he sold to customers.
Simpson pled guilty in 2015 to participating in a fraud scheme that lured victims into purchasing residential properties in Detroit, Michigan.
Johnson pled guilty in 2009 to misrepresentation in offer and/or sales of securities in Shelby County, Alabama.
In addition to the wind turbine offering, the indictment accuses Goldstein, Weisbrot, Van Arem, and Stiltner of participating in an illegal scheme to sell stock in an online company that allowed consumers to buy lottery tickets in other states. Of about $4.9 million raised from investors in the “LottoNet” operation, the sellers and brokers misappropriated about $2.4 million, the indictment states.
Money raised in that operation, according to a 2017 Securities and Exchange Commission complaint, was used for personal spending on clothing, wedding related expenses and strip clubs.
Thunderbird Power Corp. and several affiliated companies were also the targets of an investigation and permanent injunction obtained in September 2021 by the SEC.
In that case, Hinds, Thunderbird’s former CEO, was ordered to repay more than $1.9 million in “ill-gotten gains.”
The SEC complaint named Hinds, Goldstein and Van Arem as co-defendants and said the three employed sales agents in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Vero Beach to sell wind turbine investments.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding