Federal jury convicts two Arkansas men for Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering charges in turbine scam
A federal jury convicted two Arkansas men Friday for Wire Fraud, Aiding and Abetting Wire Fraud, Money Laundering and Aiding and Abetting Money Laundering in connection with the development of a wind turbine that was never operational and a proposed wind farm project in Elm Springs, Arkansas, that was never constructed.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Jody Douglas Davis, 46, of Searcy, Arkansas, and Phillip Vincent Ridings 64, of North Little Rock, Arkansas, formed a limited liability company in Texas in 2014 called Dragonfly Industries International, LLC (“Dragonfly”) and Arkansas Wind Power (“AWP”), an Arkansas limited liability company located in Springdale, Arkansas, to develop what they told investors was a revolutionary wind turbine design that was to be installed on a 311-acre wind farm proposed for construction in Elm Springs, Arkansas.
According to the superseding indictment, Davis and Ridings conspired with Cody Fell of Springdale, Arkansas, and others, beginning as early as June 2014 and continuing through and including March 2018, to obtain money from investors who were told that the investors’ money would be used to build a prototype of the wind turbine and develop wind farms in Elm Springs, Arkansas, in Iowa, and other states.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Davis and Ridings used most of the $700,000 they obtained from investors for Davis’ and Ridings’ personal use.
Specifically, evidence at trial revealed that investors were told that Dragonfly’s wind turbine could produce more energy than the traditional three-blade wind turbines commonly used on existing wind farms; that nationally recognized engineering firms and a University of Memphis mechanical engineering professor had “validated” the Dragonfly wind turbine’s design; that the Department of Defense has expressed strong interest in acquiring Dragonfly’s wind turbines for use in combat zones; that a prototype of the wind turbine was nearing completion; that leaders of underdeveloped countries were ready to buy Dragonfly’s wind turbines; and that a $10 million grant from the Department of Energy was soon to be awarded to Dragonfly, when in truth and fact, none of these representations were true.
Cody Fell pled guilty to Wire Fraud and Tax Evasion in December 2018 and will be sentenced on September 17, 2021. A sentencing date for Davis and Ridings has not yet been scheduled.
Acting U.S. Attorney David Clay Fowlkes of the Western District of Arkansas made the announcement.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kyra Jenner and Kenneth Elser prosecuted the case.