LOS ANGELES – A Northern California man 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, Richard S. Hartunian, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, announced today.
Richard M. Rossignol, 63, who now resides in Shingle Springs, California, was convicted on February 28 of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The jury took less than six hours to render its verdict on the sole count.
United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins presided over the seven-week trial in United States District Court in Los Angeles. Following the verdict on Friday, Judge Collins scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 16. At sentencing, Rossignol faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.
Rossignol and a co-defendant – William A. Stehl, 69, of Ventura – were arrested in Oxnard, California 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 up to the time of the indictment in 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 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 the returns promised by Stehl and Rossignol, and 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. Stehl moved to Southern California in late 2005, and Rossignol was convicted of conspiring with Stehl and others up to the time of the indictment. Fraud victims lived across the nation, including in Sacramento, California; Los Angeles; Charleston, West Virginia; and New York.
The indictment was originally filed in the Northern District of New York, but in October 2012, the case was transferred to the Central District of California to accommodate Stehl, who received injuries in an explosion occurring in a building in Sylmar, California, on August 9, 2011.
In November 2013, Judge Collins granted a request by Stehl’s attorneys to have a separate trial. Stehl is now scheduled to go to trial on July 22. Rossignol is free on bond.
The investigation in this case was conducted by Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, New York Field Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Albany, New York Resident Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin P. Dooley of the Binghamton branch office in the Northern District of New York. Additional inquiries can be directed to AUSA Dooley at (607) 773-2887.