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Sault man accused of $2-million solar generator investment scam in Michigan

John Von Stach and his company, VSP North America, were arraigned on Monday on charges including operating a criminal enterprise — a 20-year felony
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NEWS RELEASE
MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL
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Schuette: Canadian owner and Michigan-based energy company charged with 21 felonies in $2-million generator investment scam

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today charged John Von Stach and VSP North America each with one count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony, and 20 counts of obtaining money by false pretenses.

The charges stem from allegations that Von Stach, through his company, scammed multiple investors out of millions of dollars in a solar powered generator scam.

"This individual is alleged through the guise of his company to have taken advantage of Michigan residents and their hard-earned money for personal gain," said Schuette. "I want to thank my Corporate Oversight Division for their dedication to uncovering fraud and protecting Michigan residents."

The charges against Von Stach and VSP are as follows:

  • One count of Conducting a Criminal Enterprise, a 20-year felony;

  • 8 Counts of False Pretenses $100,000 or more, a 20-year felony;

  • 2 Counts of False Pretenses $50,000 or more but less than $100,000, a 15-year felony;

  • 5 Counts of False Pretenses $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, a 15-year felony; and

  • 5 Counts of False Pretenses $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, a 5-year felony.

Von Stach, a Canadian resident, was arrested on Friday, June 8, 2018 upon entering Michigan from Canada. He and his company were arraigned on Monday, June 11, 2018 before the Honorable Peter J. Versluis in the 59th District Court. Bond was set at $1.5 million cash or surety. Von Stach is also required to stay in the state of Michigan and surrender his passport. 

The next court appearance is scheduled for June 19, 2018.

CASE BACKGROUND

An investigation began after an investor of Von Stach and his business filed a complaint alleging that he had never received the funds promised as an investor.

The investigation found that multiple individuals responded to advertisements by VSP seeking investors. VSP sold itself as a renewable energy company that specializes in manufacturing solar powered generators.

Investors allegedly were told that VSP sells the generators to dealers across the United States. VSP then sells these "invoices" to investors at a 20-per-cent discount. The dealer then allegedly pays the full amount of the invoice to the investor directly within 90 days.

However, multiple investors never received payment from the dealers. It is alleged that the generators sold to dealers were sold on consignment and could be returned if not sold.

The investigation into these allegations revealed many others fell victim to the alleged scheme totaling more than $2 million.

A criminal charge is merely an accusation and defendants are assumed innocent until proven guilty.

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