Federal Law Enforcement deals with criminals of all shapes and sizes, but it is rare to find one that attempts to defraud a federal agency so blatantly, as was the case recently with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Philip Joseph Rivkin, a.k.a. Felipe Poitan Arriaga, pled guilty this week to a scheme to defraud the EPA, which includes 68 different indictments for everything from wire and mail fraud to falsely secured Guatemalan citizenship.
At the center of Rivkin’s scheme was his biofuel company Green Diesel. Green Diesel claimed that they had produced upwards of 60, million gallons of biologically based diesel fuel. Under the Clean Air Act, this fuel is able to be claimed for a fuel credit. Green Diesel sold these fuel credits to a variety of different companies earning Rivkin and Green Diesel $29 million.
However, Rivkin was able to falsify identification numbers referred to as “renewable identification numbers (RINs)” representing the amount of oil produced. He sold RINs to the companies and brokers without ever actually producing any accompanying oil. Spending the money on sports cars, private planes, and a museum worthy collection of artwork, all of it was seized from Rivkin in 2012 and is a part of a civil suit against Rivkin related to his scheme.
After it was discovered that he had created a false identity for himself in Guatemala as Felipe Poitan Arriaga, Felipe was expelled from Guatemala and arrested by federal law enforcement officials. Rivkin will face over 10 years in prison and will have to pay out $51 million as restitution to his many victims.
The fact that he committed fraud is in and of itself a major offense against both the U.S. government and the business community. However, by tying his crimes directly to the environment and violating EPA policy, Rivkin extended his crimes against the government to crimes against other nations, individuals, and the earth itself.