MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former owner and CEO of a defunct private solar energy and thermal installation company is accused of bilking 53 clients in Minnesota out of more than $1 million, the Hennepin County attorney said Monday.
Michael Harvey, 41, of River Falls, Wisconsin, is charged with one count of theft-by-swindle for falsely promising to provide and install solar panels in 2017 and 2018, according to the complaint. Harvey was the head of Able Energy, which closed in 2018.
Authorities say Harvey encouraged sales representatives to tell customers their jobs would be done more quickly if they paid upfront. The bogus claim was made so Harvey could receive a larger amount of cash to "prop up his failing business," the complaint says. Harvey also is accused of falsely offering financial incentives through electric utilities or government entities.
The money from clients allegedly went toward advertising, loan payments, payroll and personal purchases at restaurants, retailers, hotels and grocery stores. Funds were also transferred to Harvey's personal account, the complaint states.
After regulators issued an order in March 2018 stating that Able Energy's electrical contractor license and Harvey's master electrician license had been revoked, Harvey continued receiving payments from clients who had signed contracts, the complaint says.
Court documents do not list an attorney for Harvey. A phone number for Harvey could not be found.
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