Green energy firm founder gets 22 years in fraud cases

August 25, 2019 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The founder of a green energy company who authorities say ran a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars has been sentenced to more than two decades in prison.

Troy Wragg, 37, was sentenced last week in federal court to 22 years in prison and ordered to pay $54 million restitution in a pair of fraud cases.

Wragg pleaded guilty in March 2017 to conspiracy and securities fraud stemming from a “trash to cash” operation by Bala Cynwyd-based Mantria Corp. from 2005 to 2009.

KYW-TV reports that at the federal courthouse Tuesday, Wragg told the judge that he considered investors his friends and was sorry.

Prosecutors said he and co-defendants touted technology to turn household waste into power and a valuable charcoal-like material used in agriculture, but they had almost no earnings and used money from new investors to repay earlier investors. Housing developments that Mantria cited as collateral were never finished — the sites lacked drinking water, and some may have contained unexploded artillery shells, prosecutors said.

Two months before the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Mantria Corp., the Clinton Global Initiative recognized the company for its stated commitment to “help mitigate global warming.”

Prosecutors also alleged that, while out on bail, Wragg solicited investment for an online video dating website by falsely saying that a well-known internet entrepreneur was about to buy the company.

“Wragg and his co-conspirators talked a big game about their bogus trash-to-green-energy business, but it was all a lie,” U.S. Attorney William McSwain said in a statement. “And when he was caught in this lie, he just couldn’t help himself and decided to scam yet another innocent investor.”

Co-defendant Amanda Knorr, 36, of Hellertown, pleaded guilty to fraud in the green energy case in 2016 and was sentenced in April to 30 months in prison. Prosecutors said another co-defendant awaits sentencing.