A judge sentenced a 46-year-old electrician Tuesday to a three-year prison term and ordered him to pay $481 million in restitution for his part in a solar company’s billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, authorities said.
According to documents referenced in a U.S. Justice Department statement, Martinez resident Joseph Bayliss was hired to pose as a licensed engineer who would inspect mobile solar generator units constructed by Benicia-based DC Solar Solutions.
Investors who bought the trailer-mounted units, promoted as able to provide emergency power to cell-phone towers and lighting at sporting events, also received federal tax credits.
When the firm’s sales model fell short and earlier investors’ need for returns loomed, DC Solar owner Jeff Carpoff stopped making the units, but kept selling non-existent ones to new investors. From 2016 to 2018, Bayliss earned about $1 million to falsify thousands of reports alleging new units’ inspection and testing, and to remove and replace vehicle identification numbers on the generators.
After authorities carried out search warrants at DC Solar in 2018 and at Carpoff’s home, Bayliss went to a Nevada warehouse and “scraped off approximately 200 replacement VIN stickers and destroyed at least 1,000 VIN stickers stored in boxes,” the Justice Department said.
After an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division and the Federal Insurance Corporation Office…