California Man Sentenced for Duping Investors in Ponzi Scheme Claiming to Turn Cow Manure Into Clean Energy

One of the fake pictures Ray Brewer sent to investors.
Department of Justice

His scheme was simply full of crap.

A California man was sentenced Monday to nearly seven years in prison for running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme centering around cow manure where he made claims he could turn the dung into clean energy, the Department of Justice announced.

Between March 2014 and December 2019, Ray Brewer, 66, of Porterville stole nearly $9 million from investors after telling them he could turn cow manure into green energy, the Department of Justice announced.

Brewer claimed his business, CH4 Power, built anaerobic digesters on multiple farms in California and Idaho that could use “microorganisms to break down biodegradable material and turn it into methane," according to the Department of Justice. He then said it can then be sold on the open market as green energy, according to the New York Post.

Brewer took shareholders on tours of the farms where he showed forged lease agreements, altered bank statements and doctored contracts with multinational companies that made it appear he secured revenue streams, the New York Post reported.

He even told investors they would receive 66 percent of the profits from this process along with tax incentives, CBS News said.

"None of this was true," the U.S. Attorney's office said.

The Department of Justice even released an image of a fake picture they said Brewer showed investors of the digesters under construction.

When Brewer’s investors realized the fraud and obtained civil judgments against him, he moved to Montana and assumed a new identity, the Department of Justice said.

When Brewer was finally caught and arrested in November 2020, he told officers that they had the wrong man and claimed to have been in the Navy and recalled how he once saved several soldiers during a fire by blocking the flames with his body so that they could escape, the Department of Justice said.

Brewer has since admitted that these were both lies meant to curry favor with law enforcement, the Department of Justice said.

He pleaded guilty in February to wire fraud, money laundering, and identity theft charges. On Monday, he was sentenced to six years and nine months behind bars, though he originally faced 20 years.

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