A Greene County man who sold more than $2 million in investment loans claiming they were used to fund an upstart company, but instead used the money for personal purchases, has pleaded guilty in federal court.
Robert Irey, 59, of Clarksville, pleaded guilty Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to one count of attempt and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in the investment scheme and will be sentenced next year.
Federal investigators said Irey and two co-conspirators, Kevin Carney of Euclid, Ohio, and Jonathan Freeze, formerly of Pittsburgh, sold more than $2 million in investment loans while operating Alternative Energy Holdings, LLC, which they claimed would be used to build a plant that would convert biodegradable waste into energy.
The loans were sold to 22 victims from June 2016 through April 2018, but only a small portion was ever repaid, investigators said. Those payments were made using other loan proceeds in a “Ponzi-scheme like manner,” according to court documents.
Some investors were offered ownership in the company, while others were promised short-term, high-interest loans that were supposed to be paid back quickly, but the company only repaid $63,000. Instead, federal investigators said the three men split the investment money three ways for personal use.
While Irey did not plead guilty to the other five counts in the indictment, he acknowledged his responsibility for them, which could be considered when he is sentenced March 24 by U.S. District Judge Robert Colville.
Irey faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal court documents indicated that he also owes his victims more than $1.8 million in restitution.
Carney and Freeze are still awaiting trial on the six-count indictment. The three men and several others are also defendants in a federal lawsuit alleging fraud.