A law firm accountant from Harrisburg has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge related to his past employment with a defunct Cumberland County biodiesel firm.
In a news release issued in tandem with other divisions of the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said David Tielle, 49, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.
Tielle, who is currently the director of accounting at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, previously worked for Keystone Biofuels Inc., a Cumberland County company that closed in 2014 after filing for bankruptcy in 2013.
Tielle served as Keystone’s director of business development. He was with the company for seven years, according to his LinkedIn profile, leaving in 2013. He started at McNees in 2014.
Investigators said he participated in a conspiracy with the biodiesel company’s owners from 2009 to 2012 to fraudulently claim tax refunds from a federal excise tax credit program. The owners, Ben Wootton and Race Miner, were previously indicted on tax fraud charges, with tax refunds submitted to the IRS totaling more than $4.1 million, according to investigators.
As part of the conspiracy, investigators said Tielle allegedly caused inflated fuel amounts to be reported to the IRS in order to fraudulently claim tax refunds on fuel Keystone was not producing. The company also produced fuel that did not meet standards needed to qualify for the federal biodiesel tax credit.
To account for the inflated amounts, Tielle allegedly created false books and records and engaged in a series of sham financial transactions intended to mirror the false books and records, investigators said.
Tielle faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison as well as a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties, according to Freed’s office. His attorney declined comment on the plea.
However, Tielle’s plea deal with the government considers him a “minor participant” in the tax fraud scheme, which should reduce his future sentence, according to court documents.
Tielle was not named in the original indictment filed in May 2017 or the superseding indictment filed in January against the owners. However, the grand jury report mentions an “unindicted co-conspirator” that served as director of business development.
McNees Chairman David Kleppinger said Thursday that Tielle remains employed by the law firm. He declined to comment further about the investigation.