LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — A West Texas businessman was sentenced Friday to more than 15 years in prison for a biodiesel scam that generated nearly $42 million in revenue, allowing him to purchase expensive cars, a military tank, and season tickets to San Antonio Spurs games.
Jeffrey David Gunselman, 30, was ordered by a federal judge to pay nearly $55 million in restitution. Gunselman had pleaded guilty in December to 51 counts of wire fraud and 24 counts of money laundering, according to prosecutors. He also admitted to making false statements that violated the federal Clean Air Act.
The Lubbock resident has been in custody since shortly after his arrest in July.
Prosecutors said he devised a scheme beginning in 2010 to mislead the Environmental Protection Agency by claiming his company, Absolute Fuels, produced biodiesel fuel. He never had a facility to produce the fuel and falsely generated federal renewable fuel credits that were sold to oil companies and brokers, prosecutors said.
He told purchasers to wire payments to his bank account. Ultimately, $41.7 million was deposited.
Ivan Vikin, special agent in charge of EPA's criminal enforcement efforts in Texas, said there are about a dozen cases nationwide similar to the one involving Gunselman.
"It's unique in the sense that this renewable fuels program is relatively new," he said. "This isn't something we saw two years ago."
Officials said in addition to the military tank, Gunselman used the money to buy a $2.65 million house, pricey vehicles like a Bentley and Shelby Cobra, a $1.6 million Gulfstream G3 jet and $166,720 in Spurs season tickets. He also bought up agricultural, residential and other properties.