A Jefferson man has pleaded not guilty following his indictment on charges of allegedly bilking investors in a scheme involving a shell biofuel company.
Winston Wade Turner, 48, was arraigned Thursday in federal court, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney B.J. Pak.
“Turner allegedly pitched a biofuel scheme to former clients he met through reputable brokerage firms,” said Pak in a statement.
“Alternative energy sources like biofuel are sometimes a cover used by the unscrupulous to prey on investors seeking to put money in a potentially growing field. Turner is accused of luring investors with promises of immediate and profitable returns in a biofuel producer, which turned out to be a shell company of his own invention.”
Connected to the case, according to Hall County Fire Services Capt. Zach Brackett, is a house fire that happened in February 2016 on Winding Rose Trail in Flowery Branch, a fire that investigators have determined was intentionally set.
Brackett, citing the ongoing investigation, did not elaborate on how the fire is connected to the case, but did confirm that the department is helping the FBI in the investigation into Turner.
Turner, whose scheme allegedly preyed on senior citizens who were looking for safe a secure investments starting 2015, claimed to be a broker for North American Bio Fuel, a company he claimed was based in Bradenton, Florida.
His victims, many of whom were apparently former clients from his previous jobs at Metlife and Prudential, were pitched in person and online about an "up and coming" company already producing biofuel, which was in fact only a shell company at that point, producing nothing.
Turner allegedly took hundreds of thousands of investor funds and spent them on personal and other corporate expenses.