Founder of Wind Energy Co. Convicted of Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme
Shawn Robert Dooling, who was accused of orchestrating a multi-million-dollar wind energy fraud scheme, has been found guilty on all charges against him. The six-day trial-by-jury, overseen by U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson, concluded on Wednesday.
Dooling was convicted of three counts of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property, for actions committed through a company he founded in 2009, called Renewable Energy SD, LLC.
The wind energy company was headquartered in Excelsior, and as owner and president, Dooling marketed and sold wind turbines and installation and maintenance services.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office-District of Minnesota, between around 2010 and 2013, Dooling would strike contract deals with customers – primarily farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa – in which they would pay up front for renewable energy turbines and post-installation maintenance.
Dooling, 52, told customers that he would send a portion of their money to a third-party manufacturer as a down payment for a turbine, and once the turbine was built, he’d complete the transaction with the manufacturer.
However, Dooling never bought any turbines, instead using the money for personal purchases or to pay for other customers’ projects. When people asked where their turbines were, Dooling lied about the status of their orders, blaming imaginary delays on manufacturers.
“Mr. Dooling wanted to live a life of luxury without earning the money to pay for it, so he lied to and stole from people who trusted him, most of whom were hardworking farmers,” said Surya Saxena, assistant U.S. attorney, in a statement.
More than 70 people fell victim to Dooling’s scheme, paying a combined total of more than $13 million to Dooling and his company and never receiving a turbine or refunds. Meanwhile, Dooling withdrew about $2 million from his company’s bank accounts to buy luxury automobiles, to fund travel, and to pay his son’s college tuition.
Dooling’s conviction comes as a result of a case conducted by the FBI. An initial lawsuit was brought against Renewable Energy SD and Dooling in 2013, prompting a court-ordered halt to the company’s operations. Federal charges were filed spring of 2017.
“We are grateful for the work of the jury who deliberated this case and saw what we saw, and that was a scheme crafted by Mr. Dooling to defraud innocent and well-intentioned investors of their hard-earned money with the empty promise of energy efficiency that would never come to be,” said Jill Sanborn, Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI, in prepared remarks.
Added Saxena: “Mr. Dooling will now be held accountable for his actions.”