A defendant has been convicted of federal fraud charges for his involvement in a $7 million investment scheme that lured investors with false promises relating to the development of an alternative energy technology. The fraud victims lived in Los Angeles, Sacramento, New York and Charleston, West Virginia.
Richard M. Rossignol, 63, of Shingle Springs, in Northern California, was convicted on Feb. 28 of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins presided over the seven-week trial in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Collins scheduled a sentencing hearing on June 16. Rossignol faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Rossignol and a co-defendant — William A. Stehl, 69, of Ventura — were arrested four years ago in connection with an indictment filed in the Northern District of New York. Both men were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Additionally, Stehl was charged with several tax charges and lying to federal agents.
The conspiracy count alleged that from 2001 through March 2010, 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, and that it would result in significant financial returns for the investors. Stehl and Rossignol obtained more than $7 million from more than 300 victims. None of the investors received investment returns. Most of the money obtained was used for personal expenditures by Stehl and Rossignol.
Stehl was living near Saranac Lake in New York when the scheme started, and moved to Southern California in late 2005.
Stehl is scheduled to go to trial on July 22. Rossignol is free on bond.
The case was investigated by the IRS and FBI.