A man was sentenced to over six years in prison Monday for masterminding an elaborate cow manure Ponzi scheme that swindled almost $9 million from unsuspecting investors, according to California authorities.
Sixty-six-year-old Ray Brewer executed his scheme between March 2014 and Dec. 2019, during which he illicitly acquired $8,750,000 from investors, the Eastern District of California US Attorney’s Office (USAO) wrote in a press release. Brewer claimed to be able to convert cow manure into renewable energy using anaerobic digesters. (RELATED: REPORT: Suspect Arrested For Bizarre Break-In At Pierce Brosnan’s House, Allegedly Defecated In Neighbor’s Yard)
— FBI (@FBI) March 2, 2023
Under the guise of constructing these machines across multiple dairy farms in Central California and Idaho, Brewer attracted investors with the promise of a 66% share in net profits and tax incentives. Anaerobic digesters are recognized for their ability to decompose biodegradable material through microorganisms, ultimately generating valuable methane gas that can be sold as green energy. This process generates Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), which companies often procure to fulfill their obligations toward green energy initiatives.
Brewer employed various deceptive tactics to lure potential investors. He conducted tours of dairy farms, where he falsely claimed the digesters would be installed, and presented fabricated lease agreements allegedly signed by dairy owners. He also fabricated evidence to falsely claim he secured substantial loans to finance the digesters. Brewer also circulated counterfeit construction images of the digesters under development.
Once Brewer acquired funds from his victims, he transferred the money to multiple bank accounts he had opened under different entities, family members, and an alias. He used the money for personal expenses, “These expenditures included two plots of land that were 10 or more acres each, a 3,700 square foot custom home, and new Dodge Ram pickup trucks,” USAO wrote.
Brewer continued to deceive his investors by providing them with fabricated documents such as construction schedules, invoices for project-related costs, power generation reports, RECs, and photographs.
Brewer pretended to refund portions or all the investors’ contributions using funds from other investors. When his victims uncovered the fraud, Brewer fled to Montana and assumed a new identity.
When arrested, Brewer attempted to mislead law enforcement by claiming they had apprehended the wrong person. “He also 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. Brewer has since admitted that these were both lies meant to curry favor with law enforcement,” USAO wrote.