Chicago, by Flickr user Mr Hicks46 (Used under CC License)Enlarge Photo
Back in 2011, Chicago officials announced the start of a project that would create a network of electric-car charging stations in the Windy City.
However, progress stalled quickly thereafter, and not all of the stations were built; some of those that were never operated properly.
Now, the two formers owners of the company that got the contract to build the network are facing charges of fraud.
Mariana Gerzanych and Timothy Mason--the two former heads of 350Green--are accused of falsely obtaining almost $3 million in grant money for the project, The Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the indictment made public Wednesday in Chicago's Federal court, the two obtained this money by falsely claiming that they had paid subcontractors and vendors for work on charging stations.
The city of Chicago and 350Green entered into a contract in October 2010 that provided the company with $1.9 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
2015 Nissan LeafEnlarge Photo
As part of the agreement, 350Green was supposed to provide $6.8 million of its own funds for the project. This money never materialized, the indictment claims.
Prosecutors allege 350Green submitted fake checks to the city for charging stations.
The checks were made out to Actium Power--a front company created by Gerzanych--for amounts much larger than what stations typically cost, the indictment says.
When actual subcontractors complained of missing payments, the indictment claims 350Green told them the city wasn't returning invoices on time.
The company also entered into similar, but smaller-scale, deals with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and two San Francisco-area government agencies.
The FBI began investigating 350Green after it stopped paying its bills sometime in 2013.
NRG eVgo electric-car charging stationEnlarge Photo
At that point, 169 of the promised 280 charging stations were installed, but many reportedly were not operating.
A Federal judge subsequently handed the Chicago network to JNS Power & Control Systems, which in turn made a deal with NRG eVgo--but only for the small number of DC fast-charging stations in the area.
NRG is now operating those stations, including having to perform delayed repairs on some of them.
When that deal was announced in November 2014, there were 17 fast-charging stations in Chicago.
NRG has promised not only to incorporate them into its growing nationwide evGo network of charging sites, but also to build more.
[hat tip: Larry Nutson]