Michigan Biodiesel Exporter Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud

WASHINGTON – A Bloomfield, Michigan, businessman, who operated a biodiesel fuel company, was sentenced to 30 months in prison today for filing a false income tax return.

Chandra Yarlagadda owned and operated Alpha Bioenergy LLC, formerly known as Naturol Bioenergy LLC, which purchased and sold biodiesel fuel. Under the Clean Air Act and related federal regulations, companies such as Alpha that exported biodiesel fuel were required to purchase and retire Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) for any volume of renewable fuel they exported. The RINs are used by the Environmental Protection Agency to track compliance with its annual Clean Air Act standards.

According to court documents, Yarlagadda reported income and expenses associated with Alpha on Schedules C attached to his personal income tax returns. Yarlagadda admitted as part of his plea that on the Schedules C attached to his 2009, 2010, and 2011 tax returns, he substantially overstated expenses associated with the purchase of RINs. For these three years, Yarlagadda reported RIN expenses totaling more than $14.2 million, when, in fact, he was only entitled to claim approximately $80,000 in RIN expenses for those years. Yarlagadda admitted that if he had not claimed these false deductions, he would have owed an addition $2.3 million in federal income taxes.

In addition to the term of imprisonment, U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain ordered Yarlagadda to serve one year of supervised release and pay restitution to the IRS in the amount of $3,285,303.

Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Saima S. Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan made the announcement.

IRS Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, conducted the investigation.

Trial Attorneys Melissa S. Siskind and Sarah C. Ranney of the Tax Division prosecuted the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hiyama of the Eastern District of Michigan provided substantial assistance in this matter.

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts can be found on the division’s website.

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