Ventura man pleads guilty to $8 million fraud
September 6, 2014
A Ventura man pleaded guilty Sept. 2 to federal fraud charges for his involvement in an $8 million investment scheme that lured investors with false promises relating to the development of an alternative energy technology, according to federal prosecutors.
William A. Stehl, 69, pleaded guilty in federal court in Los Angeles to the following five counts: conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, lying to federal agents, two counts of attempting to evade the payment of federal income taxes, and subscribing to a false federal income tax return. United States District Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr. scheduled Stehl’s sentencing hearing for Dec. 15.
At sentencing, Stehl faces up to 38 years in federal prison.
Stehl and a co-defendant – Richard M. Rossignol, 64, of Los Angeles – were arrested in Oxnard four years ago in connection with an indictment filed in the Northern District of New York.
The conspiracy count says that for 10 years, Stehl, Rossignol and others induced victims to invest money in companies that were purportedly developing or utilizing an alternative energy source Stehl claimed he had developed. Investors were told that one of Stehl’s applications related to the processing of precious metals allegedly contained in a slag pile in Silver City, New Mexico.
Stehl and Rossignol were charged with fraudulently obtaining money from investors by making false representations about the status of the process, claiming that contracts and licensing agreements had either been signed, or were about to be signed, that would result in significant financial returns for the investors. Stehl, Rossignol, and others obtained more than $8 million from more than 300 victims, and attempted to obtain at least an additional $50 million.
None of the investors received the returns promised which was instead used by Stehl and Rossignol for personal expenditures.
On July 28, Judge Collins sentenced Rossignol to 20 years – the maximum statutory sentence – and immediately remanded him into custody.