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  • The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia

California man pleads guilty to RIN fraud, sentenced to prison

Ijomah Oputa, 54, of Los Angeles, California, pleaded guilty and was sentenced May 19 by U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden to 40 months’ imprisonment for wire fraud in connection with the generation and sale of fraudulent renewable fuel credits from 2017-’21.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 created or extended several federally funded programs to incentivize production of renewable fuels, including biodiesel, and to encourage the use of such fuels in the United States.

Authorized biodiesel producers and importers could generate and attach credits known as renewable identification numbers (RINs) to biodiesel they produced or imported.

Because certain companies need RINs to comply with regulatory obligations, RINs have significant market value.

Oputa created a fake renewable fuel importing company and fraudulently generated RINs on volumes of biofuel that he claimed to have imported from foreign biofuel producers.

No such imports had actually occurred.

Oputa generated false documentation of the alleged imports, including fake classified correspondence with a branch of the United States military.

He then sold the fraudulent RINs to a RIN trading company for approximately $426,000, which he deposited in a bank account he opened using a stolen identity.

Judge McFadden also ordered restitution in the amount of approximately $462,200 to ACT Fuels and $33,600 to RIN Alliance, two of the victims of the wire fraud scheme.

The case was investigated by U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Blackwell, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Senior Trial Attorney Cassandra Barnum, of the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section.

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